tv U.S. Senate CSPAN May 20, 2013 12:00pm-5:01pm EDT
they use portable fingerprint readers. in other words, you come out of the airplane, you're exiting the terminal. you don't need a big, big area. only international flights would be affected. you put your fingerprint on a machine, it reads them instantly, and you know whether or not this person is on a hit list, a watch list or has got a warrant out for their arrest before they depart the country. maybe they had after they entered the country. this is done every day in america. most people don't know that many police departments have fingerprint reading machines in their cars. and when a person is arrested and they have any suspicion, normally they ask them to check their fingerprints, and they do so. and that's how most fugitives are discovered. they don't -- we don't go out with mass numbers hunting down
fugitives. they're picked up when they are arrested for some other offense and the fingerprints are run and found out they're wanted for murder somewhere. that's how they're apprehended. so this report is really unbelievable in that we don't know about it and did not know about it. i'm highly offended. this is why the american people are upset about this. they don't trust their government. the irs can't be trusted, the homeland security writes a report and keeps it secret, and nobody knows why, because it rebuts what we've been told about an entry/exit visa system. now, that's the truth. and i'm getting dad gum tired of it. >> well, a lot of people are tired -- >> [inaudible] >> a lot of people are tired of a lot of things. i'm going to ask, senator flake, did you want a voice vote? >> mr. chairman, i had some other things to say about it. >> okay. well, we're prepared to go to vote, but go ahead. >> the report found that overall air exit pilots confirmed the
ability to biometrically record the -- [inaudible] subject to u.s. visit departing the united states by air, and they also found a number of other things. they found that it did not increase line length, departure time, and had little or no impact on departure time. what about cost? we've been told it costs $25 billion for something like this. but the cost would appear to be minimal, for five to ten mobile readers across all 150 international airports, the cost is nothing close to what the airlines have been complaining about or claiming. the cost for this solution, the same solution that dhs knows works, their own study found, studied in two pilot programs is about 133,000 per airport and
about 50 million across all airports right now. that would be about 5-10 mobile readers per airport. the annual cost for cbp manpower for hours of operation for international outbound terminals would be about -- >> would my colleague yield for a second? >> did you say $100 million? >> 150 million. >> you're favoring the expenditure of $150 million? >> i would just say to my colleague we understand that he would wish us to go to a biometric system immediately. we debated that at great length a few days ago. this amendment by senator hatch, his colleague who sits next to him, says, okay, the congress or this committee won't go along with implementing it immediately for all the reasons we discussed last week which we, you and i disagree with. let's at least try it at ten airports now. so let's put an immediate system in place which is the biographic, using the swipe of the passport or the swipe of the
visa card, and let's -- because we all want to move to a biometric -- let's try the biometric at ten airports which there's not authority at now. it would seem to to me my colleague even if he couldn't succeed in getting his amendment to do biometric immediately, would be supportive of this amendment -- >> reclaiming my time, we have a report that shows it can be done now, senator schumer. it completely rejects what you told us last week. it's not a $25 billion project. i don't know who told you -- i'm sure the airlines have been saying it's going to be exceedingly expensive -- >> let me -- >> but it's not. it requires no infrastructure changes or minimal infrastructure changes, certainly, and it catches overstays, terrorists and criminal departures. >> senator feinstein and then senator flake -- >> wait, one more thing.
>> senator feinstein. >> concerned about this. i have the floor. >> excuse me. >> i'm sorry, i thought you'd finished. >> i know you'd like to interrupt. >> no, i don't want to interrupt -- >> you're doing a good job of it. >> you take as long as you want. >> i'm trying to explain a thought. >> repeat your statement as often as you'd like, you have the right. go ahead. >> this is what the current law is today. that's why they did this work. it requires an entry/exit system that's land, sea and air, and it requires biometrics. there's no mystery about this, and it can be done. why is it not done? i don't know. but i have said before it seems to me whenever you produce anything that will actually work, the people involved in pushing for immigration liberality oppose it. and this will work. it had 90, 94, and what,44
individuals on the hit list? 131 on another watch list? these are people that ought to watch this because they presumably are criminals or terrorists who do harm to the united states of america. and somebody needs to ask why we haven't done it already. and the reason is that secretary of homeland security has been on strike. secretary of homeland security has not been enforcing the law, but is undermining the enforcement of the law. and i.c.e. counsel and the uscis have said so openly and directly at risk of their own jobs and futures. it seems to me. the i.c.e. union, the cis union, as i said today, this bill makes the current system worse. it undermines the entry/exit visa system in current law and completely undoes it. and it says it will damage public safety and national security and should be opposed by the lawmakers.
that's today. that letter came out today. and my colleagues aren't listening. they've been meeting in secret with immigration lawyers of america who want more basis to confuse and delay plain, simple deportation. >> with just not true. >> they've been meeting with airlines, they've been meeting with big business, la raza and other groups that have special interests, but they refuse to meet with the enforcement, customs and enforcement agencies. they said just a couple of weeks ago in their letter they refused to meet with the citizenship and immigration people. they said, this is what they say about the current situation. this is today's letter from 12,000 agents and their representatives. uscis adjudications officers are pressured to rubber stamp applications instead of conducting diligent case review
and investigation. they go on with point after point after point to show that under the leadership of secretary napolitano, we're not doing what the law requires. we're undermining the law. so it's not a small matter. i know senator hatch probably didn't have this report. senator flake probably didn't know about this report. i didn't know about it. it's no need to make this a ten-year plan. we could have this done at a reasonable cost in a short period of time. that's exactly what we need to o be doing. i've taken some time, but i believe it's critically important. 40% of the people who enter our country are entering by visa overstays. we have the ability to dramatically improve enforcement and reduce that. we can do it. but we can't do it if we come up with one excuse after another to put it off. and let me ask you, if the current law is notngt law
that calls for industry/exit visa systems isn't being enforced and we pass this amendment that puts it off for another six, eight, ten year, how do we know that'll ever be implemented? legalization will occur immediately, just like in 1986. we get promises that we're going to do something in the distant future, but i don't see much enthusiasm in this room, at least on those promoting the bill, to make the system work effectively. they're pretty hopeless. they don't think it's going to work. they have no real intention, it seems to me, of insisting this occur. a final comment would be we had large numbers of people on the watch list being discovered by an entry/exit visa system operating properly. we need that. the study that homeland security did, that study shows it can be
done, and it can be dope at a reasonable cost -- done at a reasonable cost. why we won't do it within a year or 18 months completely, i have no idea. so for that reason, i am -- >> mr. chairman? >> the ranking -- >> the current bill, i won't support it. >> the ranking member had sought recognition and senator feinstein sought recognition, senator flake sought recognition, and i want to make sure everybody's heard who wants to be heard. >> i'm going to put my statement in the record, somewhat repetitive of what senator sessions has said. let me sum up by saying, number one, nobody can question about the united states being a welcoming nation, a nation that welcomes immigrants whether for a short period of time or a long period of time. and make no doubt about it, the united states is a sovereign nation.
but if you're a sovereign nation, you've got to control your borders. that's what other people do. how many americans willy-nilly walk all over the world to go to some other country? no, without documentation? no, they don't do it. so we have a situation where a nation based upon the rule of law both for coming and going is very important. we have a nation based on the rule of law that in 1996 we passed entry system, exit system, and it's not law. so what i see before us is a fig leaf that leads us to believe that we're doing more than what the bill requires. but because the bill does a lot less than what we decided in 1996 we needed to do, i think this amendment should be defeated. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman? >> senator feinstein, then senator flake. >> i very much support the nonaccusatory parts of the
senator from alabama's statement. i think -- [laughter] i think it is correct that the biometric system is much more preferable. i suspect the opponents are the airlines. as a matter of fact, there is a letter in the record saying that they oppose it. but there is no question that it is the better system. and i very much doubt that it's going to cost the amount of money that has been suggested. we discussed this last week. senator cornyn and i resolved to work together on the floor. i don't look at this, senator sessions, as a fig leaf. i look at it as a start. i think it's a very good start at the ten busiest airports that they will immediately proceed to implement a biometric system. and i think that's exactly what we should do. so i want to thank senator flake and those others. and i'm happy to work on the floor if there's more information, if there's a way of
tightening this further and getting a biometric system in effect in a year or so. i will vote for that as well. so i want to just give my support for a yes vote on this and thank the people that put it together. >> senator flake. >> i'll be very brief. i sympathize, all of us shy with what was said by senator sessions. we are all frustrated by the slow pace of this. but i think senator grassley put it best. he said this is, this is something we've had since 1996, and we haven't implemented it. since 1996. this legislation or in this amendment by senator hatch does nothing to weaken the current system that actually starts to implement it faster than it has been since 1996. so there's nothing that weakens current law. in fact, a more aggressive approach than we've taken since 1996. and i think that's what we can't
lose sight of. i appreciate senator hatch for putting this forward. i think it's a good amendment, and i support it. >> mr. chairman? >> senator sessions. please, go ahead. >> i thank the chair for allowing me to speak on this important issue. the hatch amendment is stronger than the gang of eight bill that's before us. it's not stronger than current law. current law requires a biometric entry/exit visa at all airports, all land ports and all seaports. so it does weaken current law. and i would ask the sponsors, is there any trigger here? is there any trigger that says other actions to legalize those here illegally the final steps won't occur if congress once again fails or the administration fails to complete the entry/exit system even as
senator hatch's bill proposes? is there a trigger on it? i don't think it is. >> no -- >> so once again we get a promise for the future but not any confidence it would ever happen. if senator feinstein has studied this because it's been such a long, complex matter, and i had begun to believe that senator feinstein, the costs were higher. you know, i thought the costs would be pretty high. but it looks like from this report when you think it's not that expensive to have a fingerprint reading machine. and people just off international flights, just off international shipping go through a line, and they put their fingers on the machine. they've already had their fingerprints taken before they come, and then it's read. and if something -- when they exit, i mean. so when they exit, it checks. and there may have been an arrest warrant issued for them for a serious crime while they were in the united states.
and you would have ability to catch them that way that wouldn't otherwise happen. >> okay. we'll -- so nice to have the clerk call the roll, and then if we can before we recess at 12:20 if we can do the feinstein amendment. clerk call the roll. >> senator feinstein? >> aye. >> mr. schumer? >> aye. >> mr. durbin? >> aye by proxy. >> mr. whitehouse? >> aye. >> ms. klobuchar? >> aye. >> mr. franking? >> aye. >> mr. coons? >> aye by proxy. >> mr. blumenthal? >> aye. >> [inaudible] >> mr. grassley? >> no. >> mr. hatch? >> aye by proxy. >> mr. sessions? >> no. >> [inaudible] >> no, by proxy. >> mr. lee? >> aye. >> mr. cruz? >> no, by proxy. >> mr. flake? >> aye. >> mr. chairman? >> no.
>> mr. chairman, the votes are 13 yeas, 5 nays. >> then the amendment as amended is passed. senator from -- and indicate that senator durbin, of course, voted in person. >> thanks, mr. chairman. >> senator feinstein? >> i'd like to call up amendment feinstein 4 which is co-sponsored by senator cornyn, and i want to thank him for his support. since 9/11 u.s. citizenship and immigration services, cis, has worked with law enforcement and the intelligence community to develop anti-fraud mechanisms and security screening measures to enhance the security screening process used for its asylum and refugee programs. so today biographic and biometric checks are done by checking asylum and refugee applicants against databases maintained by the department of homeland security, the fbi, dod, state and the national
counterterrorism center. this amendment would essentially codify these national security checks that cis is currently conducting as part of the asylum and refugee process. and, therefore, secure that they will be continued. in addition, the amendment would give secretary of homeland security the flexibility in the future to utilize other federal records or databases that would enhance the cis screening process. i urge my colleagues to support the amendment. >> certainly, senator grassley. >> i support this amendment. i'm concerned that the underlying bill on page 648 allows the secretary to waive the removal of an alien who has willfully through his own fault refused a request to comply with the biometric screening. to make this amendment effective, i don't think the secretary should be able to waive the requirement, and i
hope sometime down the line that senator feinstein would work with me to address this concern. >> i would be happy to, i agree. >> i think it's a common sense amendment. all those in favor of it signify by saying aye. >> aye. >> opposed? the ayes appear to have it, and the ayes do have it. i note the senator from california was very good to keep it short. she also won. the, we will stand in recess until quarter of two. [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> the committee is taking a lunch break. they're going to resume the hearing at 1:45 p.m. eastern time. we'll be covering the rest of the hearing on our companion network, c-span3, when it resumes. viewers have been tweeting about the hearing so far. one writes: immigration reform must make it easier for entrepreneurs to bring ideas to america. >> again, resuming this hearing 1:45 p.m. eastern time over on
our companion network, c-span3, when it resumes. both chambers are back at work today, and we have a preview of the work ahead this week in congress with the capitol hill reporter. >> host: here to tell us more about congress' agenda this week is james hohmann, national political reporter at politico. hi, james. >> guest: good to be with us. >> host: what do we expect to see this week in terms of hot button issues we're hearing about including the irs scrutiny of conservative groups? are we expecting more hearings and panels convened? >>ing yes. more republicans will try to continue to draw new information on the irs. they, obviously, are trying to balance how much they want to pursue a lot of these issues, but for now it's aggressively. it's not going to be like last week when everyone was under --
watching hours and hours of hearings. and they are going to be starting to move on some bread and butter issues like the farm bill. >> host: tell us more about what we're watching on the farm bill. >> guest: so the house agriculture committee, and the house passed the farm bill. the senate passed a version last year, and as part of the fiscal cliff bill, they extended the old one until september. so now a bill has passed both chambers that sets the stage for really a conference committee to meaningfully negotiate what the farm bill's going to look like. it's basically, you know, a massive, huge bill, and the big holdup right now is how much do you cut food stamps. republicans wanting to make pretty significant cuts into the food stamp program, and democrats agreeing to smaller cuts but also trying to reduce the amount that some farmers get for various crops 6789. >> host: and we'll be talking
more about food stamps, the snap program later on this morning on the "washington journal" at 9:15 eastern. james hohmann, immigration. so much of the focus was on immigration, on the markup in the senate judiciary committee. where does the immigration debate stand in the senate, and what are you watching? >> guest: there is going to be a union of border guard agents that comes out today, according to reports, against the senate gang of eight compromise. i think at this point we pretty much are looking and watching what's going on in the house to see before, you know, we move, like get more traction in the senate. everyone wants to see how much the house can get done and how far the house can go. it feels even though there's kind of daily movement, like there's a broader holding pattern. >> host: one of your colleagues reports in politico today,
national citizenship and immigration services council fights the senate bill. you can find that on politico's web site, politico.com. congress leaves town next week for the memorial day recess. anything that has to get done before they leave town? >> guest: no. and the memorial day recess is going to be key. everyone sort of wants to know how people are going to be responding to immigration which has been really overshadowed. there's not going to be any last minute legislating this week, which is why i think it will be a relatively quieter week than last week. and i think members want to get back and make sure that they're kind of running interference on the potential blowback on immigration. >> host: on the front page of politico's web site, it says democrats hope scandals are in the rearview mirror by 2014. we've heard some of the republicans from the sunday talk shows already this morning here on "the washington journal." how are democrats in the house and senate talking about issues that have been in focus? >> guest: they are saying, i
think, you know, president obama after a couple of days of not really knowing what to do last week adopted a very traditional strategy for how you respond to these kinds of scandals which is to express great umbrage, to say that he is as as offended as anyone, to get rid of some people in an agency, and i think that democrats have gotten onboard with that playbook which is democrats are expressing outrage about what happened at the irs, distancing themselves from the president who, as you just noted a minute ago, who's not been directly implicated which is a key thing. and then i think that they're trying to get rid of the culture of scandal. the republicans keep trying to connect the dots between the somewhat disparate events. and republicans last week were able to group three different things together as the three scandals. and democrats are trying to disgroup them, tackle each of them individually and, basically, hope that republicans
overreach, that they start attacking the president personally, that they keep pounding harder and harder when there's not connecting it to the white house. although we continue to see drip by drip new revelations come out about who in the white house knew what when, and if new information starts to emerge that the democratic strategy will look potentially problematic. >> host: and finally, james hohmann of politico, we see this piece in politico, obamacare repeal now about the irs. how is the federal health care law, the affordable care law and the irs, how are they being linked by members of the house right now? >> guest: the irs scandal has given republicans the ability to say, you know, we can't implement the affordable care act and give the irs the ability to manage your health care fines if you don't have health care coverage, because now their going to have access to all this information, they're going to potentially abuse everything.
taking a step back, in the big picture republicans kind of believe that government is basically the irs and the dmv. and that that is, in a nutshell, what the problem with a big, powerful centralized government is. and so dissatisfaction with the irs, fear of the irs bolsters the republican argument that there shouldn't be some big, central, strong, powerful government program. and to that extent, the public is on their side on the irs. they're trying to use that to help tear case on -- their case on limiting obamacare implementation. >> james hohmann, national political reporter giving us a wide perspective on the week in congress. thanks so much for joining us. >> my pleasure. thank you. >> host: how do you feel about congress' understanding in general of silicon valley, of new technology of some of these products? >> you know, one of the challenges is we're in the business of making law, and laws
are often difficult to write in the face of technology. even within the government, if you will, the big data. we're the largest data producer and consumer, and yet we have some of the least structured, least readable data. so we have two problems. one is understanding what the rest of the world is doing, secondly and more importantly, making sure that there's a world class efficiency and availability for the american people with of what the federal government is doing. they're both pretty vexing to people who don't live in technology every day. >> see the technology that helps shape public policy. we'll visit the annual cea technology fair on capitol hill tonight on "the communicators" at 8 eastern on c-span2. ..
>> today on capitol hill c-span2 has been covering the senate markup on the immigration and border security bill. the hearing will resume at 1:45 p.m. eastern time but our coverage will continue over on our companion network c-span3. the senate is expected back here on c-span2 at 2:00 eastern. before the senate comes back here's a look at some of the immigration hearing from earlier. >> okay. can i go on now to refugees?
section 3403 allows the president to admit into our country and grant permanent legal status to an entire classes of aliens that are classified as refugees. currently refugees undergo specialized and individualized assessment. what does, why does the bill dramatically expand refugee law in this manner? it seems to imply the current system which we bring in over 75,000 people per year isn't adequate. >> well, first, let me say that it does not expand the refugee status but every single person has to go through the review. i think what you're referring to is senator lautenberg's offering each year as part of the appropriation process the so-called lautenberg amendment. and what frank has done, and i think done well, is to say, rather than proving up, for example, in every case, that
going back in history, you were a. >> in the soviet union and discriminated against, we're going to accept the premise that jewish people in the soviet union were discriminated against. or a coptic christian in egypt, or a christian, or someone who is an evangelical christian in iran today. so instead of saying every single person who comes before the immigration court has to prove up the premise that his class is being discriminated against in a country, we establish that there are certain known examples of discrimination which we can refer to by reference rather than proving up in each case. >> okay. >> as my staff reminded me, still, every single person is subject to extensive security checks i described earlier. >> let me move on to interior enforcement. new, this involves new judges, staff attorneys and support staff.
basically gets at the proposition we're making these decisions way ahead of time through this legislation and maybe not knowing exactly what, what's needed right now. the, so let me, this is the premise. the bill mandates the hiring of at least 75 immigration court judges over the next three years as well as at least one staff attorney or law clerk or, and one legal assistant for each immigration judge. in addition the bill mandates the hiring of at least 30 staff attorneys including the necessary additional support staff for the next three years. so, as i indicated, that's a lot of new judges, attorneys and support staff. i note that these are mandatory hirings of new judges, attorneys, et cetera. the bill provides for no downward discretion with respect to these hirings. the reality is we don't know
whether the immigration court caseload will increase or decrease under this bill especially with a massive new rpi program. two questions. why is this a mandatory hiring of new judges, et cetera, and not an authorization for more personnel if circumstances so warrant based on demonstrated needs? and then let me follow it up with a second yes -- question. that is the only two questions in this area. shouldn't there be a study to determine the true need for these judges and additional new attorneys, staff, et cetera, before we start mandating? >> thank you, senator. and let me say that i know you've been sensitive to this when it comes to the article 3 courts caseload and i want you to consider what we're facing now when it comes to the immigration courts. there are currently 259 immigration judges in our country, sitting in 58 different immigration court locations.
>=w)[iy of these judges have increased dramatically over the last several years. 186,000 cases are pending in immigration courts as of the end of 2008. by 2012 it was up to 326,000, from 186 to 326,000, a 75% increase in just four years. 1200 pending matters is the average per immigration judge. 1200 cases. let me tell you what it comes down to. average processing time for cases in immigration courts nationwide is about four months. 123 days. where the individual is detained and more than three years in cases where the individual is not detained. when we are detaining a person, questioning their status, and i've been to some of these detention centers, it costs over $100 a dare as taxpayers to detain them. if we slow down the court
process we're building up the backlog in detention. and i might add the reason why we're moving forward on this is we can't realistically say to people, we're going to move you through a process that could involve literally millions of people in this country without expanding those who will stand in judgment of some important questions. we'll raise some of those questions today. criminal backgrounds. if i'm applying for the 10-year rpi status, is there something in my back ground which disqualifies me? there will have to be some resolution of that. we want to make sure that's done on a timely basis and that's the reason we've done this. >> your answer brings up this. wouldn't, since we're legalizing so many millions of people under this legislation, wouldn't the caseload go down? >> well, if we expand, it is my understanding, there may be 11, 12 million undocumented in this country. i can't tell you how many were here before december
31st, 2011, which is the cuttoff date, nor how many will exercise the right that we create under this law to enter into the process. some may say, they don't wish to do that, or even some return to the country of origin and wait their 10 years there. they may this that is a better outcome. so we can't really predict with certainty but we can say, i think with some reliability the numbers involved in this are going to be dramatically increased. oh, i forgot to mention. we also have 500 new border patrol -- 3500. and with border enforcement there will be more removals involved in that. so as we do a better job at the border. >> those 3500 though are customs people? but let me -- >> senator grassley. >> i think your answer -- >> i just wanted to follow-up a little bit if you would allow. >> let him finish please.
>> what i would like to do, i want to make sure the "gang of eight" doesn't know that we're asking these questions to stall, i would not like to have a debate if we could. >> i'm not debating. >> have you finished your questions? >> no, i will move on. no i'm not done yet. >> so we to know the schedule, as soon as your questions are finished we will go to leahy amendment 3. that's mrw 13332. in -- this is violence against women and the authorization for victims of employment authorization for immigrant victims of domestic violence. so why don't we let senator grassley -- >> there are questions -- >> then we'll take up -- >> right to counsel. the bill establishes right to counsel for people here, undocumented, who are in removal proceedings. the bill requires the
attorney general to appoint counsel for an unaccompanied minors, any alien who has any type of mental disability or immigrant that are considered to be particularly vulnerable, particularly vulnerable is language from the bill. not only that the bill would give the attorney general the unreviewable power to appoint counsel to any, undocumented immigrant in immigration proceedings at taxpayer's expense even though there is provision in the bill that funding for this will be appropriated from the comprehensive immigration trust fund. much of those mon monies in that trust fund are actually taxpayer's dollars. question. immigration law has always given immigrants a right to obtain counsel but not at taxpayer's expense. why are we giving the attorney general broad and unreviewable power to appoint attorneys for immigrants including dangerous criminals people
here illegallya while, why should the american taxpayerses have to foot the bill for lawyers people here undocumented? >> mr. chairman? >> gentleman from illinois. >> i visited one of these detention facilities in southern illinois, there was a room full of individuals not been charged with a crime. they were there while the whole question was being decided whether they were in the united states in legal status. and i asked the 40 or 50 men in this room how many of you have an attorney? none of them. had no legal counsel. no representation. now, this, amendment, this bill that we're presenting doesn't change that, nor requires us to provide counsel for each of them except we believe that the secretary has the authority now and we spotlight two specific instances. and i would like to give you an example or two why we do this first we're talking about unaccompanied children. senator franken told a story
at a recent hearing about an 8-year-old boy who was told by an immigration judge that he had the right to cross-examine the government's witness, an 8-year-old boy. and, sadly those with mental illness in this process, many times never understand what they're going through. there was an example of a u.s. citizen, a u.s. citizen, with a severe mental illness, deported from this country because he didn't understand the fact that he just had to explain he was an american. so we're taking those extreme cases, unaccompanied children and people with serious mental illness, and saying, our legal process in this country will give them a chance to have someone explain to them what is going on and to represent them. >> what about the people though, that don't fall into that extreme cases you just gave us? >> we think there is discretion under the law but we don't go into the specific area. we certainly don't require legal counsel in every case. >> let's go onto the board of immigration appeals.
the bill would require the board of appeals to issue a written opinions that would have to address all dispositive arguments raised by the parties. why is it necessary to address all these dispositive arguments raised by the parties even though those that have no relevance to the final disposition? isn't this going to burden and prolong the process and create technical meritless reasons for judicial review? >> mr. chairman, responding to senator grassley. you have an amendment on this i believe, amendment 42, that you may offer? >> yeah. >> it would remove two provisions in the section on board of immigration appeals that apply to appellate body responsible for reviewing immigration court removal proceedings. those are meant to codify this practice. one provision of the bill thaw strike with your amendment states that in reviewing immigration court decisions, the board of immigration appeals must
issue a written opinion. i think that is the heart of the question that you're asking here. written opinions provide needed guidance to the immigration courts so they don't have to relitigate these matters over and over and over again. written opinions are less likely to be appealed than a am affirmatives without opinion because the parties actually understand the basis for the court's decision. it is in writing. requiring written opinions will codify existing good practice. bia am firmances without from more than 30% in 2004 to 3% currently. so when they're issuing opinion, decisions without written opinions appeals rates to the federal courts rise. so we are not taking the burden off federal courts. we're creating more without a written opinion. >> okay. my last issue is state and local resources. one. major reasons why immigration is the subject of significant public interest and is considered here in this committee is the failure of the federal government to enforce
existing law. 11 million people have entered this country undocumented because the federal government did not stop them from entering. it did not take action to remove. this is not an accident. legislative requirements for exit entry systems were ignored. legislation requiring fencing was not complied with. action to hold employers accountable was not taken, conscious choices were made to take less effective action in stemming the flow and deliberate inattention was given to the presence of 11 millions as the numbers grew. enforcement of laws has been lax and the result is that states have stepped up to control their own borders. states have become vulnerable against people who are here illegally. their citizens face crime victimization. their budgets are drained as
they attempt to provide social services. the states should be able to enforce federal immigration restrictions more effectively, yet time and again the federal government has denied them the opportunity and tried to stop them. two questions. what in the bill would enable the states to control their own borders when the federal government doesn't? that is a very basic question. seems to me under the 10th amendment and, if the federal government isn't doing its jobs the citizens of that state have a right to be protected. >> mr. chairman, responding to senator grassley, i listened to your argument about the failings of our immigration system. it is the most compelling argument for the passage of this legislation i ever heard. i know at the end of day you will seriously consider that possibility, even supporting that possibility as this immigration system has broken down so badly in our country. that is why the eight of us
sat down night after weary night and tried to put this together. so i hope you will join us in that regard. now what you raise is a fundamental constitutional question. which the courts have been faced with, with the arizona statutes and others. we don't try to resolve that question in this law. we try to create an immigration system that will work. now we do recognize when it comes to border enforcement the very question that you raise that if our initial plan, comprehensive plan to make the border safe does not achieve that the states play an even larger role with ample federal resources to get the job done. so, we are going to work closely with the governors on the border states as well as other law enforcement officials so we are not ignoring the states responsibility and in fact their vulnerability with the current broken system. we're trying to work with them to solve the problem. >> my colleagues did . >> any other questions? >> one question. does this bill do anything
to enhance cooperation between states and the federal government? >> most definitely. the creation of this commission to work with the federal government for border enforcement, and, providing amount of resources, billions of dollars to get this job done, will give to those, we were told, what, nine different crossing sections on the border. six are in pretty strong shape. three need work. we're going to try to, i think the border is safer than it has ever been in 40 years but we're going to make it even safer. each instance work with governors and the states to get that job done. >> mr. chairman? to senator grassley's questions and they're valid and important questions because the american people want security at the border. we've always felt that, i've always said one of the watch words of our proposal as the gang of eight, if americans are sure won't be future waves of i will -- illegal immigration, and borders are
secure there will be fair and common sense to future legal immigration and to 11 million living in the shadows. i would say this to my colleagues, we're very mindful of that. one. complaints the states have, the border states is that the federal government isn't doing their job and they're stuck doing it. they would much prefer to have the federal government to do the job. this bill is the most robust attempt of the federal government to do its job at both the border and with others who come to this country or stay in this country illegally, exit-entry and e-verify that we have ever seen. then as senator durbin mentioned we have a fail-safe. if after five years, with more money that they have, that has been spent on the border, much more money than has been spent on the border in the past and very good guidelines and everything else, if they don't succeed, the states, led by state elected officials will come in and make their proposal. but i think if you ask the governors of the border states they would much
prefer the federal government step up to the plate and do its job rather than they take over. that's what we're trying to do here. we do have a fail-safe of the states, being involved with federal dollars if the federal government fails. i don't think the federal government will fail. >> okay. >> mr. chairman? you allowed senator schumer to speak. i will just note this is not a bill that strengthens border enforcement. i'm reading a letter of may 14th, from the immigration customs enforcement council, the i.c.e. officers. this is what they say. addressing this legislation in four pages, as a result, the legislation before us may have many satisfactory components for powerful lobbying groups and other special interests but on the subjects of public safety, border security, and interior an forcement this legislation fails. it is a dramatic step in the wrong direction.
today the customs and immigration enforcement association, 12,000 members, just published a statement today saying, yet like the i.c.e. council, they made reference to this letter, like the i.c.e. council, the u.s. cis council was not consulted in the crafting of the "gang of eight"'s legislation. instead, the legislation was written with special interests, producing a bill that makes the current system worse, not better. 744 will damage public safety and national security and should be opposed by the lawmakers. i don't know who you have been meeting but i know these officers were not consulted. they know what it is like in the real world out there. and they studied the bill and they say it is not working. and i will just suggest with regard to litigation, that, this bill has so many
opportunities to expand legislation that the number of judges that have been suggested that needs to be added would not come close, probably to what is going to be needed. it has the potential to completely gum up the entire system. and senator durbin, i would ask, did you cult with prosecutors -- consult with prosecutors and lawyers when you put in words like, hardship and instead of extreme hardship? when you talked about providing lawyers and there are many other examples of softening the standards, the clarity of the standards, have you done a study to ascertain how much more litigation you can expect from this from real people? i mean people who do the work every day? >> mr. chairman? you know, to senator durbin, you can answer that. then we'll have to go onto the amendment.
i know senators, some senators want to speak a let. they will have plenty of chances to speak on this bill before we get done but, let's do what we're supposed to do to get the amendments. i would also note parenthetically as far as consulting, there has been no major piece of legislation that i know of in my years here, i have served here longer than anybody else, where we had such openness and transparency. every single amendment has been put online before we met. we streamed this online, so everybody can see it. we're a nation of over300 million americans. has every american been consulted? but every american can see what is going on. senator durbin, and i will give you the list of what amendments we're taking up this morning. >> mr. chairman, i'm glad we're going through the amendments. i think many of these issues will come through the amendments which i think is more constructive way to move on it. let me say we did consult
with law enforcement when it came to the provisions. i would say even there has been criticism leveled this administration from the union, association which you have referred to, but also from many people, there have been 1.4 million people deported by this administration. so they have not ignored the law. it is true the president has included daca, to, said we're not going to import those eligible for the dream act. it has been a two-way street in terms of deportations. but i find it very difficult, i would say to my friend from alabama, it is very difficult to argue this bill is weak on enforcement. we are literally investing billions of dollars in border enforcement on a boarder that already had a massive investment. it will increase. we are secondly going to create e-verify. i met with the national restaurant association in their convention in chicago over the weekend and there was a employer, a restaurant you're in your state,
senator flake, after they checked his workforce, you may have talked to this individual, they found 43% of his workforce was undocumented, and they fired them on the spot. he lost 750 years of experience of restaurant workers in his businesses, who were dismissed. so the system we're trying to create brings those people forward where they will register. and once registering they will be able to work in this country, and we'll know who they are and war they are. that has to make us safer. think about the exit visas that we're finally going to deal with the source of 40% of the undocumented people those who overstay a visa. each of these provisions moves us into a safer mode and a more secure position. to argue from a law enforcement viewpoint we're weakening standards by several major leaps, we're increasing them. >> we'll go to regular order and begin with amendments of title 3.
subtitles b, c, d and e. here is the list we go. leahy 3 amendment, amendment from senator grassley, one from senator feinstein. amendment either 6 or 7 from senator hatch. senator klobuchar amendment. senator sessions, senator franken, senator graham, senator can, senator grassley, senator bloom then -- blumenthal. senator sessions or graham. feinstein or koons. smart grassley. first amendment call up is leahy 3, mrw 13332. describe it, quickly. enable immigrant victims of sexual violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, other violent crimes to obtain work authorization no later than 180 days after filing a petition or urt visa. normally takes about 18
months or more. the problem with taking too long is somebody is being abused and they can't go out and get work. the abuser can say, okay, you will have to stay here and take this abuse or you and your children will not be fed. and they exploit them, the financial dependence off the victims as a way of controlling them. and of course the abuse continues. everybody we talked to in law enforcement said this is an untenable position and something should be done to make it different. if they have work authorization they wan work. if you don't, the woman being abused may have no money for housing or food. so she has the choice of, do i live in a violent home, or do i live on the street? and how does she show a family court that she can provide for the children?
so, we ought to at least, whether, no matter how we debate on issue of access to our social safety net, we ought to at least be able to allow people to work and provide for themselves. and i note that, this prior to consulting with people, there are 160 national state and local organizations who work with survivors in the field every day including organizations in every single state represented around here. around this table. and they all support it. i would hope that we would have support for that amendment. senator grassley. >> mr. chairman, i think you have a good amendment here. i have two or three short questions i would like to ask to bring out how you expect it to work. first of all, i think it's a general premise that everyone agrees that an immigrant who are battered,
assaulted or victim, i should not have to rely on their abuser to apply for status. so the concept's right. leading up to my first question, the amendment says that once an immigrant files an application for status as a tu or self-petitioner, the secretary shall grant employment authorization either on the date the application is approved or by a date set by the department, not later than 180 days after application is filed. so, the question, does this mean that if dhs fails to act on the tu, or vowa petition within 180 days and an immigrant is automatically entitled to work authorization even if the vowa petition later turns out to be fraudulent? >> it is. what we're doing is encouraging them to, encourages the bureaucracy
to move as quickly as they should be able to in this. the work authorization of course is only temporary. should they fine fraud, it can be immediately withdrawn but we have not had much evidence of fraud. it is only good for one year. we, they tell me there has not been evidence of fraud in this area. abused persons seeking work authorization. the, bureaucracy can handle it within that time and should. this is to put a, as we have done in a number of other areas in here to put some requirement for the bureaucracy to work quickly. and, if, and if it determined there was fraud, it was immediately withdrawn. >> okay. second question, what happens if after 180 days and after work authorization
has been granted the vowa petition is not approved? >> then they would, they would lose the work authorization. >> then the last question is, and this may not be so easy to answer but how many immigrants are expected to apply for vowa petition, u visa or t petition? >> one part of me says i hope there would not be necessary to have any. all abuse in this country would stop. unfortunately as we found in our hearings we held on violence against women act, abuse continues. how many abused people are out there? i don't know the answer to that. i don't think anybody does. certainly law enforcement doesn't. we wish there were none but let's be realistic. . .
>> the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. and it is accepted. i thank all the senators. i thank senator grassley for his encouraging words on that, and i'll yield now to senator grassley that has an amendment. >> okay. and this is amendment number 27. yeah, 27. 2-7. >> the asylum -- >> yeah. our country has been very generous in giving asylum. about 30,000 individuals on
average over, at least over the past decade. also the united states is becoming increasingly generous in granting asylum. the grant rate for asylum, about 56%. this is an increase of 11% in four, five years. increase of 9% if ten years -- 19% in ten years. the grant rate of the asylum office is also going up. the number of persons granted asylum has increased by 31% in just one year, the last year. our commitment to helping people who are persecuted around the world is, it's never going to waver. however, we have to be vigilant. the bill before us makes it easier for aliens to be granted asylum even including those who are denied asylum in the past.
the bill would make it easier for those who wish to do us harm to exploit the system. we learned, for instance, about boston, immigrated to the united states based on their parents being granted asylum. my concern is we're not doing enough to reduce fraud, but rather, opening the doors for more abuse. the bill, i'll explain, the bill would allow aliens to seek asylum no matter how long they've been in the united states. it would also allow any alien who was denied asylum in the past based on the one-year bar to reopen the case and seek asylum. under current law people here illegally generally aren't eligible for asylum if today don't, asylum if they don't file within one year of their arrival unless they can show exceptional
circumstances or changed country condition. filing within one year is a very reasonable period, and it helps to prevent fraud and meritless application. under current law even if the imgrants don't -- immigrants don't seek asylum within one year, they can be granted a waiver from an immigration judge. all they have to do is to show that they have extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from filing within that year. there's also a waiver if there are changed circumstances in their country since they left that warrant, that would warrant the delay in filing. in addition, the bill makes it easier for aliens to receive another benefit called protection under the convention against torture by giving asylum officers the power to grant protection currently only immiation judges can grant.
protection under the convention against torture is generally only granted to aliens who are not eligible for asylum such as if they committed aggravated felonies. aliens who get relief under the convention against torture can remain in the united states even though they have committed serious crimes. this type of protection should only be granted when it is clear that the alien will be tortured if they return the their home country -- return the their home country. we should reserve the power then for judges to make that decision. asylum officers' hearing are nonadversarial hearings, and if the asylum office grants the application, there's no review at least if an immigrant judge grants protection under the convention against torture, and the department disagrees it can appeal to the board of immigration appeals if the asylum office could grant this.
there would be no review. the system works well with its power being limited to immigration judges, and that's the reason for not changing. finally, the bill allows immigrants who were found in the be immigration court to have filed a frivolous application for asylum to get legal status under the rpi program. under current law if an immigration judge determines that an immigration filed a frivolous application, then the alien is barred forever from immigration benefits in the united states. this critical provision helps discourage asylum fraud. why should we then allow someone who has tried to game the system by filing fraudulent application to be granted the benefit of legalization and later citizenship. my amendment would prevent those who filed fraudulent applications for asylum from
benefiting from rpi. the amendment aims to preserve the integrity of our asylum process. i urge my colleagues to support the amendment. basically, i've only heard good things about the united states and what we do for asylees. and the reputation that we have in this area probably better than, doing more than any other country, and why would we want to weaken that system and, hence, my amendment. i yield the floor. >> mr. chairman? >> senator from illinois. >> mr. chairman, let me say at the outset i thank the senator for this amendment, and there are parts of it that i want to address separately. first is the one-year bar for asylees, and the second, the frivolous claims. on the one-year bar, there are approximately 40,000 people each year who are granted asylum in
the united states through dhs or the department of justice. and each of those has to go through an extensive security check. so there is no waiver in our bill of the security requirements that are currently under the law. senator grassley's amendment addresses the one-year bar which says you have one year to file for asylum. it has become a major problem on two levels. first, many people who are eligible for asylum don't realize it. they come to the united states, and they are sometimes traumatized by the experiences that they have, and they have a difficult time understanding what our standards and laws may be. let me give you one example from chicago. a young woman comes to the united states from the nation of guinea in africa. at the age of 7, she was subjected to female genital
mutilation. she was then at a very early age promised into a marriage to a man 30 years older than her who had many wives, mistreating them. to the point where she fled. she came to the united states to chicago and didn't realize that whoo i've just described to you -- that what i've just described to you would be grounds for asylum because of this gender discrimination in her background. the second part that i want to raise to my friend from iowa, the immigration judges tell us instead of going to the melters of the claim, we -- merits of the claim, we spend most of our time arguing about whether one year has passed. we are getting travel documents and assembling all this information to see if we can even start considering the merits of the case. so it ends up being absolute barred to cases which are meritorious where people should be receiving asylum. so we have removed that one-year bar, and i would argue that we should keep it removed because it creates an artificial barrier to people who otherwise would be
eligible for the united states to grant asylum. on the second senator feinstein and i and others just had a brief conversation. can we work together, i'd like to work together on the frivolous claim aspect of this. i think you make a great point, we agree. let's try to put that provision together if we can on a bipartisan basis so that if a person is found to have filed a frivolous claim, it will disqualify them from rpi status. the bill, as it's currently written, doesn't say that, but we think working together we can come out with language very close to yours. >> okay. >> mr. chairman? >> well, first of all, if there's a chance of working a consensus approach, i think we ought to look at that. so you would want us to withhold our whole amendment or -- >> well, whichever you prefer. i think we could -- however you want to approach it. but i think the one-year bar, eliminating that is very important. the second part we can work on. >> mr. chair?
>> the senator from california. let me just indicate, we'll leave it to the proponent of the amendment which to do. if you've got a compromise worked out, then i would urge that that be done quickly. i just look at the list of what we have between now and 11:00 tonight. go ahead, senator feinstein. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would have some concern about going from one year to nothing. that doesn't mean that somebody has the rest of their life the figure out an asylum claim. it seemed to me that if you wanted to go from one year to five years or two and a half years, that that's a reasonable period. but to have no limit, i have a problem with that. >> i'm open to that suggestion too. let's try -- if we can find a reasonable statute, i don't think we call it a statute of limb tates -- limitations, but a reasonable -- >> withhold the vote for now, but if i understand senator durbin, so on both parts of my amendment, you think we could, we ought to consult. >> is.
>> let's try to do that. >> okay. >> the amendment is withheld at no prejudice to the senator from iowa. and the next amendment -- >> mr. chairman, can i just comment on that? >> the amendment is no longer -- >> well, i know, but every -- >> i know the senator wants to talk about a lot of these things, but i -- >> it's very important. >> i wonder if in respect to the senator who has brought the amendment if you might want to wait until he brings the amendment back so we can keep the regular order. we have 30 or 40 amendments to go through. i think we ought to talk about the ones that are actually before us and not some that might come up later on. >> well, mr. chairman, i'll acquiesce in your request. thank you. >> i appreciate that very much, and i actually do. senator hatch is next up. he's not here, but i understand senator schumer's going the offer an amendment for senator hatch, is that correct? >> that is correct. i spoke to senator hatch about ap hour ago.
he couldn't be here and asked me the offer this. this is called, this is an amendment to sunset the homecoming act of 1988. it isor sen hatch's amendment. and he can't be with us here. so let me give you some background on senator hatch's behalf. i'm supportive of the amendment. why we feels the amer-asian homecoming act should be sunsetted. children born to u.s. servicemen, fathers and vietnamese mothers during the vietnam war are currently able to immigrate to the u.s. under two programs. the 1982 aia, and the 1988amer-asian homecoming act. our department of state through the u.s. embassy and consulate in vietnam has identified serious problems in the aha program including security loopholes, subjective rather
than objective adjudication standards, unsustainable resource burdens and a systematic actual defrauding of the government with. under the 1982 ac applicants must file an i-360 form with u.s. cis, and the process provides the kinds of safeguards that are missing in the other act. it also limits those who can accompany the principal applicant to immediate relatives. conversely, someone applying under the 1988 act, aha, just needs to send a letter to the consulate to request consideration. it allows not only relatives, but any nonrelated individual to accompany the principal applicant. since 19 -- since 2010 our post in ho chi minh city received 900 new applications. they have to be handed led by the existing consular staff. at the very least, we ought to have the safeguards that make it easier for the consulate staff and make it safer.
anyone eligible under the '88 act can apply under the '82 act, so we are not denying anybody their right to be here if they deserve to be so for the reasons i stated. so i think senator hatch has a good amendment. the '88 act was drafted too broadly and without enough safeguards and allowed fraud and risk, so i would ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the hatch amendment. >> the -- anybody else wish to speak on this? those in favor of the after amendment as offered -- the hatch amendment as offered by senator schumer, and i've been advised by senator grassley a voice vote is acceptable. those in favor signify by saying aye. >> aye. >> opposed? the ayes appear to have it, and the ayes do have it. the next amendment is the cloak chaff 2. klobuchar 2. >> that was the senate from earlier today marking up the
immigration and bord we'll bring you back here to the hearing in about half ap hour, 1:45 eastern time, over on our companion network, c-span3, for continuing coverage of the markup of the immigration and border security bill. >> how do you feel about congress' understanding in general of silicon valley, of new technology, of some of these products? >> you know, one of the challenges is we're in the business of making laws, and laws are often difficult to write in the face of technology. even within the government, if you will, the big data. we're the largest data producer and consumer, so we have two problems. one is understanding what the rest of the world is doing, secondly and more importantly, making sure there's a world class efficiency and availability to the american people of what the federal government is doing. they're both pretty vexing to people who don't work in technology every day. >> see the technology that helps
shape public policy. we'll visit the annual cea technology fair on capitol hill tonight on "the communicators" at 8 eastern on c-span2. >> lucretia garfield was an educated woman and as a believer in women's rights, she expressed frustration with the traditional roles of mother and wife. during james garfield's front porch campaign for president, she reluctantly played the role of hostess for her husband, but when he was assassinated, she returned to ohio and insured his legacy by making her home into the early version of a presidential library. we'll look at the life of lucretia garfield and that of -- [inaudible] mcelroy who fulfills the role of first lady when her brother becomes president on c-span, c-span3, c-span radio and c-span.org. >> both chambers of congress are in session today.
they'll have a memorial day break coming up and will be out all of next week. today the house is in for legislative business at 2 eastern to consider bills under suspension of the rules, and later in the week a bill designed to speed up construction of the keystone xl pipeline and a pill that would tie -- a bill that would tie interest rates on student loans to ten-year treasury notes. the senate will debate the farm bill estimated to cost $955 billion. we heard more about the bill this morning on "washington journal." >> host: on mondays at this time we look at your money, how taxpayer dollars are spent, what programs they fund and who benefits from them. alan bjerga is our guest, bloomberg news reporter, thank you so much for being here. >> guest: thank you. >> host: let's talk about the farm bill. give us a sense, first of all, of what the funding levels are like in the farm bill. what's the cost, and where is it at? >> guest: well, the ten-year cost of the farm bill before the senate this week is $955 billion
over ten years. it's actually a five-year bill, but it gets scored over ten. the house bill passed the house agriculture committee last week, that's expected to be on the floor by the end of this summer. there were attempts to pass a farm bill last year. they failed because the house of representatives didn't have floor action. there's a promise for floor action this summer, so it looks like there's a much better chance than last year that we're going to get this farm bill which over ten years is close to a trillion dollars. >> host: we want to specifically drill down into the snap program, food stamps. tell us about the snap program and where the funding levels are at for that. >> guest: well, the supplemental nutrition assistance program, that's what it was renamed in the 2008 farm bill, is by far the largest amount of that budget. $760 billion estimated over ten years. it's especially increased over the last few years with the economic crisis that took place. spending in 2007 was $35 billion
a year, last year it was $80 billion. it's the lion's share of usda spending even though the farm bill is over traditional farm things that a lot of people would associate with the bill. >> host: as we looked at those numbers for the house and the senate, the billions of dollars that we're looking at over many years for the overall agriculture bill, the farm bill, we also saw some numbers for the house, $20 billion in food stamp cuts, and in the senate looking at $4 billion in food stamp cuts. why the difference? >> guest: well, and if you look at the overall cost of the bill, that's the difference. and it's $15 billion more expensive in the house, it's because of the food stamps. the differences are in how they decide to make reductions to the program. there's a lot of political pressure because this cost has gone up for food stamps to be reined in a little bit, both of them take a look at a couple of programs within the food stamp programs. most of the cuts are in two areas, one is food stamp
eligibility for people who have been getting a heating benefit. the other is something called categorical eligibility where states say if you have a person who's eligible for one social welfare program, then they're also eligible for food stamps. the house of representatives bill cuts both of those programs which is $20 billion. the senate only cuts the heating benefit, and that is about $4 billion over ten years. >> host: tom tweets in and says there's no such thing as a food stamp. he wants to stop using that term. why is that legacy language still used, and what are we actually talking about when we talk about the snap program? >> guest: yeah, well, tom makes an interesting point, and that was part of the reason the bill was changed in 2008 because he's right, it's not a stamp. if you take a look at the historical origins, the first food stamp programs were done in the world war ii era. the modern food stamp program really dates to the great society of the 1960s, and it was stamps. but since about a decade ago it's been transferred into debit cards. if you've shopped in the grocery
store, you've undoubtedly seen somebody using these debit cards. part of the reason is itwas to prevent waste, fraud and abuse, and, frankly, to reduce some of the stigma associated with the program. if you're just pulling out your card, it's just like anybody else. >> host: if you'd like to talk about the snap program with alan bjerga, call democrats 202-585-3880, republicans 585-3881, and our independent calls, 202-585-3882. we're talking about this right now because the farm bill is currently being worked on in congress. alan bjerga, you talked about how the snap program is a big chunk of the money that's in the farm bill overall. but how contentious is the debate over this right now? >> guest: i would say that, um, and i wouldn't be alone in saying this, that the food stamp program is the most contend white house area of the farm bill, especially to the broader public. it's by far the biggest expense, and to really underandete you hd
the numbers. $4 billion versus $20 billion, that's not a huge percentage. but what you have here is this battle that really is over the shape of government. in some ways talking about what sort of a society the united states is. you know, we have 50 million people who in the course of a year may be worried about whether they can have food that night. you have a poverty rate where people, and once again, nearly 50 million people living under the poverty line. if you really believe that the government does not have enough of a social safety net, you want to see food stamps preserved. if you are, on the other hand, very concerned about government spending, culture of entitlement, the idea that one out of every seven americans should not be having their food purchases subsidized by the government, then you're going to be very emotional on that side as well, and it makes this a very difficult issue to resolve. >> host: here's a tweet asking about the heating benefit. he asks what is that and why is that tied to food stamps. >> guest: well, if you're watching the debate on this one,
you're going to hear the acronym liheap a lot. and the idea is that it helps people who live in subsidized housing but may not be paying utility bills. it helps them. if you have a utility bill, it helps you out. if you don't, if it's part of your bill, there's a liheap program in which government programs have started sending people checks for home energy assistance just to help people out. well, the controversial practice that is brought around that is if you do that, you can actually qualify for greater food stamp benefits. now, a state because the food stamp program, the snap program, is federal government coming to a state, if you're a state, you have a reason to want to get more federal money coming to your state. it's stimulus. so maybe state government will send you a $1 check, a $5 check. that increases the amount of money you can get in food stamps. so it boosts the food stamp bill. if you get rid of that liheap assistance or at least that
eligibility, you can save $4 billion over ten years. >> host: we're talking about snap or food stamps. here's a map of the population where the snap costs go. the percentage of the population receiving food assistance, and you can see those receiving the most assistance in red, states like new mexico, louisiana, mississippi, tennessee and oregon. and then going down that lightest color are the states that receive the least assistance. why are the states' specific recipients -- how do we see that in congress? >> guest: the states with the most recipients tend to be the ones with highest population, but there is a lot of variation. while this this is a federal program, the states will administer it. some states are much more aggressive. this categorical eligibility issue which is big in the house, states will decide whether or not somebody has categorical eligibility which expands the number of recipients. it does play out in congress
both in that you see states with high recipients wanting to keep these programs, and i think one of the greatest challenges and contrasts, actually, is between mississippi and alabama. if you look at that map, mississippi's very high, alabama not so high. but mississippi is represented by thad cochran who's the ranking republican on the senate agriculture committee. a lot of the opposition to food stamps funding comes from the republican party, but thad cochran says he knows his constituents, and it means his state. one state over you see jeff sessions over in alabama. another ore palin, probably the biggest crusader in the program, always looking for loopholes and exceptions. these are two republicans, they're from neighboring states, they both have a lot of food stamp recipients but different political positions based on how it plays out within their own states. >> and we see, also, on this map the states that are blocked out with the dark line over them are state where is the participation in the program has doubled since 2008, and those states include florida, also nevada, utah, idaho, rhode isld.
what is happening in those states? >> guest: a lot of different things may be happening in those states. some of it, once again, if you see nevada and florida, those are states that were hit very hard by the housing crisis, big rises in unemployment. some states like idaho not as populace, there's going to be some statistical noise going on in there, same with rhode island. also some states, because they've been more aggressive with things likelyheap, they're going to have -- in recent years food stamp usage really hasn't. unemployment peaked in 2009 at 10%. now it's at 7.5. food stamp enrollment is now at 47.6 million. the numbers are not going down at the same rate. >> host: more details, 48 americans enrolled in it as of february of this year. we also see $78 billion spent on it last year. the estimated costs looking ahead, 2014, for the nex d $760.
james writes in on twitter and asks will ebts or food stamps be accepted at fast food restaurants and convenience stores, and he says i know someone who says they are used at convenience stores. >> well, i can't speak to how an ebt is being used or where. i do know the federal regulations. convenience store, it's going to depend on your definition of what qualifies as a grocery store or not. fast food restaurants, they're not supposed to be used for hot meals. if it's being used at a restaurant, that would be something to report to your local office because that's not the rule. >> host: let's go to annapolis, maryland. garth, are you with us? >> caller: i am. >> host: okay, go ahead. >> caller: i actually work in a convenience store where we accept ebt, and i am a little frustrated with the fact that you can buy chips and candy bars and energy drinks and all sorts of other things that are not for grocery food stuffs.
of money in the economy that we're in, i think it's a little ridiculous. and i would love to have an extra $400 a month to spend on candy bars and energy drinks. >> guest: well, that is one of the biggest concerns that people have about the program, you know? we can have debates here in washington, d.c. about categorical eligibility and loopholes and such, but if you're in a convenience store and you see people buying candy, people get outraged, and you can certainly see why that would be. this has been a point of controversy. i know new york and minnesota specifically, their legislatures passed laws against sugary sodas, junk food, etc., being bought with food stamps. the usda didn't want to enforce it though. part of it is they don't want to get into the business of deciding what is a good food and what is a bad food. you can't buy alcohol and tobacco, those are pretty clear cut cases. you would think that candy bars would be, sugary sodas would be, but when you start getting into drawing lines, those are issues that the government doesn't want
to get into. maybe they should. there are certainly a lot of people who think that, state legislatures who have. that is a question that is not resolved in this farm bill this year. >> host: charles in charlotte, north carolina, republican. welcome. >> caller: hello. i just had a couple of comments/questions. one is the whole weight, the weight of our population has doubled in poundage since 1970. so we're a much heavier country, and, number one, my first question is shouldn't we, if people are on food stamps, wouldn't it be in the public's interest to require them to buy food that does not make them even bigger than they are? that's my first question. second question is i have a guy working on a house, he's a legal hispanic resident, but he was telling me that many of the illegal folks that he knows, he said they're on easy street because they're working in the shadows but also collecting ebt, snap, all these programs.
and i'm wondering what other -- second part of the question is what are the restrictions on these programs for illegal aliens? thank you. >> guest: sure. to the caller's first question, um, the concerns about obesity and nutrition, again, like with the first caller you certainly have identified a real public health problem in this country and something that people are looking at. again, the food stamp program isn't necessarily something where people are trying to dictate people's food choices. and whether that should be the case is certainly a legitimate question for public debate. on the question of illegal aliens and food stamps, the rules say that if a person is here illegally, they should not be getting food stamps. and this gets wrapped in with the immigration debate which is going to be something else, i'm sure, libby, you're going to have lots of people on this show talking about in the next few weeks. it becomes a question of availability of social welfare programs to people who are not in this country illegally. -- legally. your opinion is going to tie into what you think should be
proper on the immigration e debate as well. another difficult question not dealt with by this bill. legally, a person who is here illegally does not qualify for food stamps, but they shouldn't have jobs either, and you certainly see that happening. that is a question for regulation that congress is going to be needing to the deal with. >> host: we're talking with alan bier georgia, reporter for bloomberg news. his past experience, started his career with the st. paul pioneer press, also the sioux falls south dakota arkansas gus leader and the wichita eagle in the kansas, and he grew up on a farm in northern minnesota. also very involved with the national press club, so our viewers may have seen you at national press club events that we broadcast here on c-span. let's go to a tweet from matt who writes: >> r eporter: he says it's big brother. what's the counterargument to some of this when you talk about
big brother, the government watching too much of what people eat, what they consume. >> guest: well, the person who's tweeting certainly has brought up a counterargument which is part of why there aren't these restrictions that are put on the food stamp program. people in need are people in need. if you want to make the societal choice that people who may have problems struggling to have enough food for their families, you as a society may make the judgment that there should be a program called the supplemental nutritional assistance program that is going to help those people out. that doesn't necessarily mean you create sort of a paternalistic, nanny-state attitude that would say, okay, we're going to give you this, but you can only buy this, this, this, this. you could argue for that. a lot of people do argue for that. we've had callers who have argued for that. that doesn't necessarily mean that you think that's the proper role for government in society. it makes it so difficult to resolve. >> host: darlene in north
carolina, democrats' line. go ahead. >> caller: um, yes. i'm calling from north carolina, and i just have a question. there should be, um, some way that food stamps could be monitored a little bit closer, because i've heard of several cases where people were taking and using food stamps, selling them to other people, and they were using -- they would buy the food stamps from other people for like half the price and use that money for the people who had food stamps to use that money to buy something else. apparently, they don't really need them if they're selling them to somebody else. >> guest: so the type of fraud that the caller is describing was something that was much more common when, as, you know, our very first questioner pointed out, they were actually stamps. that's tougher to do withen ebt card -- with an ebt card. a lot of fraud takes place at convenience stores where different things may be offered for sale, and often there will be somebody involved who may be an owner of a store who's sort
of looking the other way if certain things are not done in terms of compliance with the program. everybody has these anecdotal tales that they've heard about someone who has abused it this way and does this thing. i'm not saying that they don't happen, but this is also one thing that is done to really question the legitimacy of the program. you hear these stories about how this is done, and it's used to sort of attack a program that in the bulk is serving 47.8 million people as of february. there are going to be a few cases of this. that doesn't mean you don't crack down on it, you don't watch it, but if you take a look at waste, fraud and abuse rates in food stamps, it's actually improved in the last several years. it's fairly rare. and while you always have to have sort of a vigilance, the capability because of some of these restrictions and because of the change to the cards isn't what it once was. >> host: jackson in washington, d.c., independent. hi. >> caller: good morning, alan. >> guest: good morning. >> caller: now, alan, let's tell
the truth. explain to the viewers how much money that grocery stores make off of this snap program. how much did safeway make or 7/eleven make? explain the dollars in the program was that's who benefits more than anybody else. and i'll listen to your response, thank you. >> guest: sure. well, the truth is grocery store chains are big supporters of the snap program. if you have something that subsidizes people's purchases and encourages people to buy more food, you'd be behind it too. for example, the supervalu chain that's number two in the country after safeway, excuse me, after kroger, they operate the save-a-lot chain which tends to be in inner city neighborhoods in areas where there may not be a lot of other grocery availability. they've said that up to half of their revenues can come up from snap recipients. so, you know, they're going to be backing it. and you take a look at the $80 billion that is spent, some of that is administrative costs,
but the bulk of it, indeed, is spent at grocery stores. now, if it wasn't, where would that money come from, how would people buy food? i don't think controversial to say grocery store chains are on the record. >> host: the farm bill with cuts to food stamps splits democrats, and it talks about the tough decisions democrats were having to make. what were they weighing and how did things turn out as far as democrat support for the farm bill? >> guest: sure. and we can talk about both partieses, because it actually splits on both sides. in the case of the democratic party what you're looking at, remember the historical context of this program, you know? when welfare reform was passed in 1996, president clinton vetoed it twice. it finally came through with some concessions from the republicans. you know, within the democratic party there are folks who were not happy that welfare reform ever happened, and they look at the food stamp program and say, you know, this social safety net has been eroding for decades.
we don't care if people think that this liheap exemption might not be the best thing, we don't care if categorial eligibility takes the standards. people need help. so you have that wing of the democratic apparently. then you have another wing that say, you know what? we have to work with republicans. there are some arguments in favor of reining in these programs that actually are legitimate. let's work a little bit, let's accommodate. but that split is playing itself up, and that's a fault line that's been around really for decades. >> host: you talked about democrats, republicans already wrestling with issues. >>ing well, you have republican lawmakers who have their constituents and for that reason may not want to reduce this program. then you have your practical-minded republicans who are like the democrats on the other side. we need to do something without cutting off people who are in need. then you've got, you know, the paul ryan budget plan, block grant folks.
you know, the proposals in the farm bill, neither of them are as significant as what paul ryan had been suggesting in his budget which, according to one estimate, would have been, say, $150 billion cut over ten years. that would be block granting the food stamp program to the state, and then you have a real transformation of what snap is for. you've got those folks in the house of representatives, especially in the republican caucus, they need to be accommodated too. this makes it a very politically-difficult issue to resolve. >> host: we saw last week in the house an agriculture committee debate unfolding. let's take a look at two argument ors, one from congressman david scott, democrat of georgia, and then congressman reid ribble, republican of wisconsin. >> does it matter to you that with this $20 billion cut that there will be over 2.5 million poor children losing benefits? this is everybody of every race, of every creed, of every color
in this country. howhunger knows no color. >> this nation, its government has been committed to fielding its hungry, and we ought to, and it's good and it's right, and it's just that we do so. but it's also good and right and just that we as the fiduciaries of the taxpayers who are paying those dollars. that we're overseeing them in a way that is truly balanced. and we can make the argument based on the sheer numbers here that we've been extraordinarily generous. >> host: two different perspectives on $20 billion cut to the food stamp program. >> guest: yes. and i was actually at that hearing, and what's interesting about those clips is one element that i think those clips actually captured the debate very nicely. one element of that debate that wasn't portrayed at all, and it was really striking, was the number of times that members of congress of both parties were quoting scripture on this. you got into a theological
debate, and you had, you know, democrats quoting, you know, matthew 25 where jesus is saying for i was hungry, and you gave me food. i was thirsty, and you gave me drink. republicans are countering with second thessalonians chapter 23 saying those unwilling to work shall not eat, talking about a view of government as not the administrator of social programs, that that's something that should be brought more towards the individual. you know, you can get into all sorts of theological discussions on this, and if you don't take a look at the faith and values component to this debate, you're missing about half of the energy because people really look at it as a moral issue, an ethical issue, a theological issue. and when you get to questions about theology, this is going to be to have to resolve. >> host: alan bjerga with bloomberg news. let's hear from charles in texas, republicans' line. go ahead, charles. >> guest: yes. >> host: go ahead, sir. >> caller: hello? yes, go ahead. >> caller: yes. you said that illegals was not eligible for food stamps.
okay? but they have a job, okay? that's a citizen. and then after he's -- a child. and then after he's born, you can't deprive the caregivers, so they end up with them too. >> host: okay. thanks, charles. >> guest: yes. if that child is legally in the united states, it is entitle today the benefits that a family would be getting for the snap program. >> host: let's go out to iowa where shirley is a democrat. hi, shirley. >> guest: hi. one thing you may not think to point out is food cards, that's easy to say, food cards have been in for years -- hello? >> host: yes, we're listening. >> guest: uh-huh. >> caller: all right. the military years ago, in a military publication, i learned that the food stamp program at that time was put in as a first line of defense against insurrection because hungry people revolt, especially when they see their kids go hungry.
and the military is not able and does not want to be shooting people down in the united states because we've got hungry people as they had in russia and china. and that was the reason they had a big insurrection. people got desperate because they were starving. remember that, food cards is just as easy to say, and we haven't had food stamps for ten years. but the republicans love to keep saying food stamps pause they got such a nasty -- because they got such a nasty reputation because they were so easy to misuse. >> host: shirley, how much attention to people in 'em mets burg, iowa, pay to the farm bill? >> caller: i watch it pretty closely. i was, once upon a time, a farmer, raised in a farm family, and i have a lot of sympathy for farmers. and so, yeah. and i have a whole lot of sympathy for the people even
here in iowa who are eligible for food cards because they're low wages in many so many places. and let's go into other countries and what they're paying in wages, not just the low ones, let's go into, like, australia pays $15 an hour for adults and half of that much, $7 for teenagers. >> host: okay, thanks, shirley. >> guest: well, shirley raises, actually, some very fascinating issues. that kind of strikes at the heart of why have you have the food policy that you have. my alter ego is of a frustrated history professor, so i could talk about this much longer than the audience would want to know. but when you think about food stamp programs and a lot of social welfare programs and the historical origins of them, they are ways to sort of placate social unrest. when you take a look at the new deal and folks calling for potentially a dictatorship or the american legion protecting president roosevelt. you get to the great society era
and some of the unrest that was in inner cities, in the united states you tend not to think of the snap program as sort of that formula, but there is an origin in that. you know, it's a subsidy for food consumption. you don't think of the united states as doing that, but if you take a look. for example, at the arab spring, some of the riots you were having in places like tunisia and egypt was because the government subsidizes bread prices or consumer prices, and those prices got ratcheted up, and there were riots in the united states. you don't think about that in the united states because it is such a stable nation, but that is part of the belek chul origin of some of -- the inte lek churl orange. >> host: ron writes forever let's go to eaton, indiana.
april, independent caller. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i think there's a bigger problem than actual people know. i know of someone who actually got her children taken away by the state and was in state custody, and she was still getting, like, $1200 a month for over six months until she got her kids back. and it never came up. nobody ever said anything. people called in on it, and nothing still ever happened in indiana. and she still gets them to this day. >> host: and, april, why does this matter to you? >> caller: well, because, well, i have four children, and i'm disabled, and we can't get food stamps, you know? i tell the truth, and then you've got people that's abusing the system, obviously, they didn't even have their kids, and, i mean, i know there's more kids around the area that do not have, you know? and so i think that's, that's a problem. >> guest: again, it's hard to comment on people's individual cases without knowing the details of it. but this is one of the big
concerns that people have about the program. @the perceived free rider phenomenon. you know, you're working hard, you may have a disability, you're trying to raise your children, and you don't -- and you see somebody else maybe getting some benefits that you're not getting. and this gets down to the issue that a lot of people especially on the right have as a concern with the program which is the idea of social stigma. part of the budget for food stamps is there is advertising for access. once again, if you're a person who believes welfare reform is a bad thing, you want the compliance rate, the participation rate in this program to be high. and part of the reason that the numbers have been going up is because participation has been going up. it's not that more people are eligible, the higher proportion of those who are eligible take advantage of it. well, there is a school of thought that says you should with a little bit ashaked if you're on public assistance because that is a way to spur you to work harder, to make the money and stand on your own two feet which is an ultimate sense of prosperity rather than
government stoons. that is a lot of what you will hear from a lot of the opposition of this program. on the other side, you have people saying, look, it's there to help people. if people qualify for help, they should get it. >> host: we see proposed cuts to food stamps, the snap program in both the house version of the farm bill and the senate version of the farm bill, the senate one is significantly less. what will these mean in terms of enrollment, who would stop getting assistance, how does it play out? if it all goes forward? >> guest: sure, sure. well, the center for budget and policy priorities which tends to be very much an advocate for the poor, the underemployed, the unemployed has done a study that says under the house plan, um, which would destroy categorical eligibility, you would have two million people removed from the rolls. now, going from 47 to 45 depending on your perception of those two million people and how big you think the program should be, that may or may not be a big
deal to you. they also say 210,000 children might lose benefits. once again, this gets down to that theological debate. you know, when you had six years ago and half as many people were using food stamps are as now, were we twice as uncompassionate a society then as in 2013? if 60 million people are eligible we should have 60 million, those 210,000 children is going to be a really big deal. if you say we're at 47 million, why are we not back at 22, you see things differently. >> host: columbus, ohio, randall, go ahead. >> caller: i only have a couple comments, and then i'll listen for his answer. i noted on your map the red states are all right-to-work states where the wages are lower and people can't, just don't have the money to buy food with. and i didn't hear the republicans arguing about cutting the subsidies to these big -- [inaudible]
companies and taxes they've been giving them. >> guest: the caller makes a really interesting distinction that is important for understanding the politics of this bill going forward. this is the farm bill. the farm bill is drafted by the agricultural committees. the agricultural committees are made up predominantly of lawmakers with strong agribusiness interests. the portion of the farm bill that is devoted to those subsidies, your crop insurance program, your payments to farmers when prices go low is a small or the -- part of the bill. now, part of the reason -- and people ask why are are food stamps and farm subsidies in the same bill? a lot of it has to do with real politic. in a sense, they're all farm programs. if you subsidize consumption of food, you are at a certain level helping farmers. but there's also a very political reason for this as well. as rural representation in congress has declined over the decades, you've needed another constituency to get this farm bill through congress. inner city representatives, they are part of that coalition.
now, that coalition so estranged this time because if you think about it, if you are an advocate for food stamps and you have a cut between a $4 billion cut or a $20 billion or do nothing and nothing changes, zero, how strong are you supporting this bill this time? and this is something that's going to be playing out. you've already heard about it from lawmakers like kirsten jill brand. you're going to see a little more trouble getting this grand coalition together because some of the food stamp people are looking at these deals and saying, hey, there's nothing in it for me on snap. why am i voting for this. >> host: national journal daily looks at five things to watch in the farm bill, and in addition to the snap or food stamp program they mentioned crop insurance spending, something you brought up, alan. they also look at the commodity title, resolving north/south conflict, conservation rules for crop insurance and double bucks to buy fruits and vegetables. what are these issues, and are
you watching them? >> oh, yeah, you've got to watch them all. the farm bill is a fascinating piece of legislation. we haven't said the words irs, benghazi yet, and it's nice to know that there's public affairs programming that we can do that. sorry if that just broke your tranquility there. but these issues are also very important. carom insurance, to run them down quickly. crop insurance has become the base farm subsidy for agricultural producers. we had a major drought last year in the culture of the u.s. why? because we now have insurance programs that are subsidized by the government that help farmers in times of loss. how lavish should those subsidies be? taxpayers put anywhere from three-quarters to three-fifths of the bill wondering if the private market can do it more. fruits and vegetables are more coastal crops, specialty crops on smaller plots of land.
that would be one way of doing it. what were some of the other ones? >> host: conservation rules for crop insurance and also the commodity title. >> guest: yeah, the commodity title, the direct payment is where you pay farmers regardless of what their profits are or depending on what crops they grow. that's going away definitely in part because farmers have a record profit, and that program is decided not to be needed anymore. once again raising questions about waste in the structure of the program. and then we're taking a look at the conservation issues in the program. the big issue is compliance. the idea that farmers who have their crops insured against risk may then engage in riskier practices. the idea of putting conservation requirements on to crop insurance programs so to mitigate against some of that, maybe cut some of the spending. farm bill rundown. >> host: alan bjerga covers agricultural policy as we mentioned, he's not just worked here in washington, but also in states like minnesota, south dakota and kansas where he
reported for local papers. scott's our next caller in ohio, republican. hi, scott. >> caller: hi, good morning. how are you? >> host: good. >> caller: good. first of all, you need to talk to somebody on the ground level when you're talking about the major amount of welfare fraud that goes on. i am a director, i have been a manager and a store detective for one of the chains you mentioned earlier, remember? i won't mention the name. it is massive, the amount of welfare fraud that goes on, you guys would not believement i see it -- believe are. i see it every single day i'm in this my store. we don't really take care of the ebt cards because we can't really do anything at it when somebody else -- >> host: scott, describe how fraud works. >> caller: um -- >> host: you have experience with it. >> caller: how many scams can you think of? they give their card to somebody else, they use the card -- oh, excuse me. they'll go in and give the card to somebody else, and they use
it. they might come up and say i need $25 for gas and ask you to go in line, and they'll give you their money, here's the card. think of any way that you can that the card can be used, and it is used. that's all i wanted to say. >> host: what suggestions would you have, scott, for fixing that system? >> guest: i don't know what to do about it, you know? i mean, it's frustrating for the lost people because we do have to deal with it, but we catch about one out of ten people in the store and the same would probably go for the ebt cards. i appreciate your time, thank you. >> guest: and i appreciate your call and working as a store cop for a chain would certainly give you probably a lot of stories, some of which which are probably entertaining and some not fit for a family audience. especially it has grown so much in participation in the last five, six years, the question is can the system, can the
caseworkers handle all this? you do see reports that take a look at this issue. the recorded fraud rates have been declining, anecdotally what you are seeing is certainly an interesting thing to take a look at, and there are officials who are also on the case as well. >> host: barbara, dalton, georgia, independent caller. go ahead. >> guest: yes. i wanted to say that i have the same concerns that was just voiced. i have seen people using other people's cards. i also have concern with the number of homeless people there is, and they get food stamps if they don't buy food at a convenience store. they can't pick what they buy at a grocery store. so they've got to eat something. and also if the united states would stop helping across the sea so much, they would have more for us. >> guest: well, the caller brings up an issue just at the
end with assistance for overseas. there's also a big debate going on about international food assistance programs and how the u.s. should make those more efficient as well. once again, some of the same concerns about waste, fraud and abuse. taking a look again at the two different prisms. if your big concern is somebody is getting something that they don't deserve, you're going to be seeing a lot of these fraud cases, and they're going to be an outrage. if you're someone who thinks this program isn't extensive enough, if you see that case of someone else using the card, well, maybe that's someone else who needs some help too. and that's going to be perceived differently by those folks. once again, you know, just to sort of throw out an idea, maybe sometimes the reasons people don't agree on the issue is because the issues are really hard. maybe there are compelling cases on both sides of the debate. maybe, um a lot of it where you stand depends on where you sit, and people have to work out difficult issues in which not
everyone's going to be completely satisfied but a workable solution. that's the challenge of the lawmakers, we'll see how well they do. it's not going to give us any shortage of things to watch. >> host: one last quick call, linda, columbus, ohio, democrat. >> caller: yes. you know, i'm calling, i echo some of the sentiments of the callers. i see fraud, and i see the need, i see the abuse and the need, and it's really sad that we can actually feed a criminal, we can give him health care, we can educate them, but we cannot support people who really need it. there are people who really need this. >> guest: and there are. and that's one of the issues about the social safety net in the united states of america. ever since the new deal there has been a decision that the united states has made that there is going to be an attempt to help the people who are most in need. what is the most effective way? what is the moral and ethical
basis by which you decide one group needs assistance? what are some of the issues as far as the logistics, the role of stigma, the role of encouraging the behaviors that help eliminate poverty and help people lift themselves out of poverty? these are all things that become so crucial in this debate, and that's why this is an important debate. it's not about the dollars, because when you take a look at the dollars, there really aren't the grand differences that maybe you night hear given the frosty of the debate in washington, but in a certain sense, the food stamp debate speaks to who we are as a nation and how we are best going to, you know, promote the general welfare as it says in the preamble of the constitution and while at the same time taking a look at some of the fiscal issues that you have, some of the real challenges that the united states faces as a society. and that's what keeps us interested the next few weeks and why it's important to talk about this stuff. thanks again, libby. >> host: the snap program, we'll see that as part of the farm bill that the senate will be working on. alan bjerga, bloomberg news reporter, thanks so much for
being here. >> guest: thank you. >> we go live now to the u.s. senate opening the day with general speeches. they'll be working on the farm bill at 3 p.m. eastern and later today debate on two judicial nominations with votes starting at 5:30 p.m. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal lord god, because you are our shepherd, we face the future with confidence. keep our senators humble, as they seek to serve you and country. may they never forget your kindness to them and to this land we love.
remind them that you alone are the source of their strength and the shelter where they can find safety. listen to their prayers and answer them, supplying all their needs according to the richness of your grace and mercy. lord, strengthen them for each challenge, as you bless them in their going out and coming in. may they overcome cynicism with civility in all of their relationships. we pray in your gracious name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge
of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, may 20, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable tim kaine, a senator from the commonwealth of virginia, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. mr. reid: almost? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following reared foll- following leader remarks, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 3:00 p.m. today. at 3:00 p.m., the senate will begin consideration of the farm bill. at 5:00 p.m., the senate will proceed to executive session to
consider two court nominations, the chappell nomination from florida and the mcshane nomination from oregon. at 5:30 there will be two roll call votes on the confirmation of these two nominations. mr. president, democrats and the tea-party republicans disagree on many things. so it is very encouraging to see how well senator stabenow and senator cochran worked aes a team to bring the agriculture jobs bill to the floor. their work has been exemplary, some would say old-fashioned, the way things used to be. the committee members included many of the amendments that were adopted last year and the senate considered and passed a farm bill. as we'll remember, it went to the house and of course they did nothing. the committee did this in an effort to expedite the floor process, which begins today. i hope their cooperative spirit guides their work on this important legislation.
the american farmers are counting on us, but so is the economy. dedespite the economic times, america's farms and ranches are the most productive in the world, supporting 16 million private-sector jobs. to keep america and farms strong, congress must pass a strong farm bill. the legislation before this body will create jobs, cut taxpayer subsidies, and reduce the deficit. the bill includes important retomorrows to farm and food stamp programs and saves more than $23 billion, which will be used to reduce the deficit. it will give farmers the certainty they need to maintain the largest trade surplus of any sector in our economy. helping american farmers thrive is an important part of our work to get the economy on firm footing again. again, i commend senators stabenow and cochran for their leadership on this important issue. on another subject, mr. president, while the senate has taken a lot of bipartisan action on the agriculture jobs
bill, they've seen no progress on the important budget. senate republicans still refuse to allow us to negotiate with our house continent parts. mr. president, it's now been 58 days since the senate passed its budget. 58 days waitin waiting for the republicans to say, okay, let's try to work out our differences. they've been talking for a couple years now. in the senate we don't follow regular order. they say we want to pass a budget so we can get to regular order. i guess they thought we couldn't pass a budget, because we passed one; now they refuse to go to conference. i think the main reason, mr. president, they're afraid to do that under the rules in the house that if we go to conference, the house democrats, which are kept out of
everything, have the right by rule of the house of representatives to offer what they call motions to instruct, to say, don't cut medicare, don't whack little kids that are trying to get an education with the head start program, don't cut the think any programs, and they -- don't cut the n.i.h. programs. and they can force the republicans to vote on that matter. so i think that's what it's all about. so it's been 58 days since the senate passed a commonsense, pro-growth budget. but my republican colleagues have objected time and time again to a conference with the house. the only explanation republicans have given for the endless obstruction is this: they refuse to negotiate unless we fray i agree in advance to lm amend. it's a very bizarre way to negotiate. meaningwhile, the country inches closer and closer to yet another
crisis, the default of the nation's legitimate bills. the republicans hope to put off compromise until the last moment so they can use the debt limit as a bargaining chip. they hope to extort concessions such as more tax breaks for the wealthy, more concessions for draconian cuts to medicare, which of course hurt the elderly, concessions for cuts to head start hurting little kids, or they hope to start concessions on more cuts to the national institutes of health, which hurts us all. house republicans met last week to decide what ransom. one house republican cause called it a laundry list of conditions. on the list, repealing health care reform. restricting women's health choices. more draconian cuts for keeping
american families strong. despite the political pain republicans cause themselves last time they held hostage the full faith and credit of the united states, they are again headed down that same -- that same path. this time they're suggested that the government should skip palms to the troops, to veterans, to medicare recipients and more. why? so we can pay china first. i'm not making this up. that's what they want to do. their plan would hurt our national security, our economic security, and it wouldn't prevent default. the republican approach -- default on the bills -- is a responsible, extreme, and really senseless. by now they should know that it's compromise, not political hostage-taking, that will set our nation on the road to fiscal responsibility. would the chair announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. and, under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 3:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each.
of the senate. i ask unanimous consent this request be agreed to and that this request be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president, i'm pleased that today the senate will be voting on the confirmation of judge michael mcshane to serve as u.s. district court judge for the district of oregon. judge mcshane is a product of the judicial selection committee i've organized at home in oregon, senator merkley has been in full support of this effort, and judge mcshane is coming forward for consideration by the senate as a result of the work of that special judicial selection committee, made up of individuals of a variety of different philosophical views and i'm very pleased that the president has seen fit to send judge mcshane's name to the united states senate. now, in a sentence, mr. president, judge mcshane
has a heart for people, a head for the law, and a high-minded sense of justice. i'd start by way of saying he certainly has outstanding academic credentials. a magnum cum laude graduate from gonzaga university, he attended lewis and clark college where he graduated in the top 10% of his class, and his accomplishments in the courtroom have earned him very high ratings by the american bar association. so from an academic standpoint, judge mcshane is clearly qualified for this position. but what i feel particularly strongly about and what was evidently very important to our judicial selection committee, is that he has been an
extraordinary member of our community, always stepping up, particularly when someone called to ask him to be an advocate for youngsters, and particularly inner-city youth, h.i.v.-positive youngsters. in these various leadership and volunteer roles, he has always come forward not just to help but also to come up with innovative approaches in terms of his work with kids. you see this in his advocacy for at-risk youngsters in the job corps program especially. judge mcshane brings these young people into his courtroom as interns to help with the day-to-day operations where they're given the opportunity to see the inner workings of our judicial system. in many instances, mr. president, judge mcshane
literally guides them through the process and sets about to make it possible for them to be involved in ways that you normally wouldn't think of when you're looking at the role of a judge. for example, in many cases judge mcshane buys sport coats and khakis for these youngsters, youngsters who would otherwise feel if they were going to be thrust into a courtroom that they would be uncomfortable from the moment they set foot in the court. and so judge mcshane says i want to make sure that those young people have a chance to blossom. those are the words he uses, mr. president, so he makes it possible for them to get the sportcoats and the khakis with his own money so they can participate in this unique training.
this past year he was awarded the 2012 oregon state bar president's public service award for service to the community, and he's involved in the northwestern school of law's meant toarg program --, mentoring program and in 2009 was named the law law school's mentor of the year. also through the classroom law project, judge mcshane provides over summer law camp for inner-city kids. and on top of that, judge mcshane plays an important role as a foster and now adoptive parent through the oregon department of human services. so you look at that kind of community caring, mr. president, and you say this is truly an accepted -- he exceptional -- exceptional individual. what we did is juxtapose that wonderful record of community service alongside his legal track record. judge mcshane began his legal
career as an attorney with the metropolitan public defender's office in portland. i think we all understand how important public defenders are, and as a result of his good work there in 1997 he was appointed by the oregon supreme court as a full time pro tem judge. for the last decade he's been an add jungtd professor at lewis and clark college where he teaches trial advocacy and the criminal practice seminar. again, going back to what why i believe he is academically and professionally very qualified to be a judge, his litigation experience includes both complex criminal and civil cases. he is the senior member of multiagnomea county -- multanomat county, and has presided over more trials than any judge in our state. he's created a proof-based model
for in,to can't offenders that has become the standard in his county. mr. president, it is for all of those reasons, especially his track record in terms of community service but also those outstanding professional experiences starting as a public defender, teaching in the classroom, that i am very hope thankful the senate will agree with me on a bipartisan basis that judge mcshane is qualified to serve as the u.s. district court judge for the district of oregon. as i indicated, a heart for people, a head for the law, a high-minded sense of justice. we have a long history in our state, i think the president of the senate is aware of some of those who have been part of our network of distinguished judges, and i have, mr. president, every confidence that judge mcshane will join
that list. i thank the senate judiciary committee chairman leahy and ranking member grassley for putting the nomination through the committee. i thank leader reid and minority leader mcconnell for bringing the vote to the floor. i hope my colleagues on a bipartisan basis will vote to confirm judge michael mcshane as u.s. district court judge for the district of oregon. with that i yield the floor and i notice notice. i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
ms. stabenow: i ask for extension of the quorum call. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved -- i'm sorry. morning business is now closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to consideration of s. 954, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 73, s. 954, a bill to reauthorize agriculture programs through 2018. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. first, mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that kevin norton, a detailee to our committee, and heather arnold, john newton and eric hansen, fellows for the committee, be
granted floor privileges for the remainder of the debate on s. 954, the agricultural reform food and jobs act. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. ms. stabenow: thank you very much. mr. president, i first want to thank our majority leader and the republican leader and all the members for allowing us in the senate to move forward today on this very important bill, and i want to thank my ranking member, senator thad cochran, for his friendship and his leadership, and i want to thank all of the members of the committee for working together to write this important legislation, and also i want to thank our staffs on both sides of the aisle. we have excellent staffs that have worked together and i know will continue to work together as we move this legislation through. mr. president, our bill, the agriculture reform food and jobs act, is critical to the 16 million americans whose jobs rely on a strong agricultural
economy. agriculture has been one of the bright spots as our economy is getting back on track. in fact, it is one of the few areas where we actually have a trade surplus where we're exporting more than we're importing, and this means jobs for us in america. the farm bill really is a jobs bill. it's a jobs bill. it's a trade bill. it's a reform bill. it's a conservation bill. and it's a kitchen table bill because thanks to the farm bill, families all across america will sit down around a table tonight and enjoy the bounty of the world's safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world. and those who need temporary help to feed their families during an economic crisis will get help as well because this is a bill that reflects our best values as americans.
it's easy to take agriculture for granted. it's easy for many of us to forget that the food we eat doesn't just come from the supermarket, like i think some folks think. the food we eat comes from the skill and the efforts of men and women who work hard from sunrise to sunset, day in and day out to put food on our tables, and too often i believe we take them for granted as well. most of us don't have to worry about how many days it's been since the last rainfall or whether or not it's going to freeze in may after the fruit trees are blooming. most of us don't have to worry about decisions and weather conditions around the world and how it affects our livelihood here at home, and that's why we have what we call the farm bill. we have a farm bill because farmers are in the riskiest business in the world. we saw that last year as our country was in the grip of the worst drought in generations.
we saw as ranchers had to cull their herds because they couldn't get enough food or water for their cattle. we saw all across the country as farmers lost their crops in late spring freezes that wiped out cherry and apple crops in michigan and other parts of the country. and that's why the top goal of the agriculture reform bill is risk management. we're reforming farm programs, ending direct payments and other subsidies that have no relationship to risk and instead giving farmers market-based risk management tools. that is the hallmark of this farm bill. we want to make sure that a farm that's been passed down for generations doesn't face bankruptcy because of a drought or other events outside the farmer's control. we also want to make sure that when there is a drought we are conserving our precious soil and
water resources. when it comes to conservation, the farm bill is risk management for the whole country. conservation programs in the farm bill make sure that our soil doesn't blow away and that our waters aren't polluted by runoff. in many parts of the country, last year we had a drought that was worse than the dust bowl, but we didn't have a dust bowl. we didn't have out-of-control erosion, and that's because the farm bill did what it was supposed to do in conservation. soil stayed on the ground. it's easy to take that for granted as well. the farm bill is our country's largest investment in land and water conservation on private lands, and the farm bill gives farmers tools to strengthen wildlife habitat. i had the opportunity this weekend with my gracious host, the senator from mississippi, to visit a program, wildlife
preserve and wetlands preserve program, and senator cochran is responsible for those parts of the farm bill. we had an opportunity to go out on a beautiful piece of flat land in the mississippi delta and see where ducks were coming back, quail were coming back, habitat was beginning to flourish because of efforts to support these important resources for the future, and the farmer involved in the property said he felt he was in partnership with the usda, was making a commitment for his children and future generations through conservation. i think this is a real source of pride for us as we look at this five-year farm bill. i'm pleased that the bill before us includes a new historic agreement between conservation groups and commodity groups around conservation and crop insurance. these folks from very different perspectives sat down together,
listened to one another and worked out an agreement that will preserve water and land resources for generations to come. the farm bill helps farmers improve 1.9 million acres of land for wildlife habitat. healthy wildlife habitats and clean, fishable waters are not only good for our environment but they also support hunting and fishing and all the other great outdoor recreation that benefits our economy and creates jobs and we just plain have fun doing it in michigan, mr. president. in fact, outdoor recreation supports over six million jobs alone, and that's a big deal. we also continue our support for specialty crops, fruits and vegetables and those crops that make up about half of the cash receipts of the country and organic agriculture, a growing part of agriculture. we expand farmers markets and local food hubs to encourage schools and businesses to support their local farmers by
purchasing locally grown food, creating more local jobs, and we expand the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in schools and community food programs that are so essential. we also strengthen rural development financing for small businesses. you know, once you get outside of the cities in michigan and all across our country, every single community in michigan outside of our big cities gets support for jobs through something that we call rural development. financing for small businesses, for water and sewer projects, road projects, housing efforts for families, a whole wide variety of things that we do through this economic arm in the usda called rural development. and we also expand the energy title to encourage support for new jobs in biobased manufacturing, which is an exciting new effort. in addition to biofuels, we now
can use agricultural products and byproducts to replace petroleum and other chemicals in manufacturing, and there is a huge new opportunity for jobs as well as supporting our environment by doing these things. so there is no doubt that the farm bill is a jobs bill. this bill also continues to focus on the issue that has taken so much of our time this year and last year and the year before, and that is cutting the deficit and getting our nation's fiscal house back in order. we get rid of unnecessary subsidies like the direct payment program that sends a check to folks regardless of whether they are even farming a particular crop anymore or streamlining programs to cut red tape and cracking down on fraud and abuse. in fact, we eliminate over 100 different programs or authorizations that either we're duplicating something else or -- were duplicating something else
or just didn't make sense to do anymore, and i think that's really the way we ought to be cutting spending and creating savings.altogether, including ts that took effect already this year, we're able to cut spending by about $24 billion. that's more than double the cuts proposed by simpson-bowles commission and last year's gang of six that worked on deficit reduction, and, mr. speaker, i want to underscore that this is four times -- four times more than is required by the arbitrary across-the-board sequestration cut. so we in agriculture take a back seat to no one in a him to do our part -- in a commitment to do our part to set priorities to reduce the deficit. this bill represents the most significant reform of american agriculture in decades, in my judgment. we're putting caps on payments
to farmers and closing loopholes that allowed people who weren't actually farming to receive payments, we're strengthening crop insurance, which we heard from farmers was the number-one risk-management tool for them. it is important that we strengthen it and protect it, as we move through this process. the agriculture reform bill includes disaster assistance for our ranchers and farmers as well, who cannot receive crop insurance. livestock owners and others in areas that cannot receive crop insurance. we made sure our food assistance programs are accountable, that there's integrity in our program, and we continue to build on the integrity that's already there by cracking down buses and misuse. and we -- down on abuses and misuse. and we made sure that our changes would not remove one single needy family. it is not about hurting folks much it is abou--it is not abous
much it i.when we look at crop e that's there for disasters for farmers. it goes up when there is a lot of disasters. then it goes down when things are going better. and it is the same thing for food assistance for farmers. costs go up during bad times that we've seen in the last number of years, and now during the length of this farm bill, c.b.o. tells us those costs are going down. why? because the economy is getting better, the people are able to go back to work. that's how it's supposed to work. and that's how it's working. last year we in the is that the passed a farm bill with strong -- we in the senate passed a farm bill with strong, bipartisan support. we didn't take the farmers for grants. we didn't take our land and water resources for granted and we stood up for families all across the country who had fallen on hard times. unfortunately, at that time, mr. president, as you know, the house of representatives did not follow our lead.
they allowed the farm bill to expire at the end of last year, which is why we are here again, working through this process. i appreciate the way we've gotten to this point in a bipartisan way. we have worked very, very hard to make sure every part of agriculture is addressed in terms of their needs and risk-management tools in this bill. i want to thank my colleague from mississippi, senator cochran, who is the ranking member of our committee and he and his staff -- his staff have worked diligently and in a bipartisan way, and that has caused us to be able to get to this point. and i want to say thank you for that. i'm looking forward to working with colleagues to pass this bill as soon as possible, and we look forward to working with colleagues on amendments throughout this week. i see my distinguished colleague
that i will turn to, our ranking member in just a minute. but i do want to place one amendment in order at this point and then we can proceed with our discussions, one that we have cleared on both sides, and on behalf of senator cantwell i would call up amendment 919. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from michigan, mrs. stabenow, for mrs. can' cantwell proposes amet number 919. ms. stabenow: i would ask that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: i appreciate the opportunity to turn to my friend and a great agricultural leader in the senate. thank you. mr. cochran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: mr. president, i am flattered by the kind remarks of the distinguished tho -- of e distinguished senator from michigan. i am pleased to serve with her on the senate agriculture committee. she chairs that committee with a
sense of responsibility for the subject matter, which is very important to our nation's farmers and all the consumers in america as well, but also to the fellow members of our committee, republicans and democrats, who serve on the committee and who have worked together to put a bill before the senate that continues to authorize programs of the federal government that benefit landowners and those who work to conserve the resources of soil and water that help nurture our great agriculture sector. it produces a bountiful amount of fruits and vegetables and marketable commodities that are sold in international trade at competitive prices. it is a great success story. i'm tempted to say "a great american success story." and it truly is.
it is the backbone of our nation's economy. so it's serious business. at the same time, it provides jobs, food to eat, grain to harvest, to export, cotton and the fibers that come from it that clothe and dress millions of people in our nation and around the world. so bringing this bill to the floor is a point of achievement, and with gratitude we point out the leadership of the distinguished chairman. without her strong leadership and her keen sense of awareness of how to manage legislation like this and present it to the senate, as she has just done, is quite impressive, and we're very fortunate to have her serving in this capacity. we have recommended a bill that contains some major reforms of the farm programs that come within the jurisdiction of our
committee. for example, the bill reduces authorized spending by $24 billion. it includes $6 billion in sequestration cuts. now, these represents real savings. we know that we have been confronting a deficit crisis, a fiscal policy management crisis, and this bill does its part. and with the authority it has over the law governing the subject matter, we have moved to eliminate direct payments to farmers, which has amounted in the past to $40 billion. there are reforms in this legislation of the crop insurance title. the bill recommends adoption of reforms that limit
producers. conservation programs has been streamlined in this legislation and consolidated. the committee has crafted reforms in the nutrition title to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in the supplemental nutrition assistance program. these are big challenges. and these challenges have been met with a recognition that there are people who need the support of programs like this. schoolchildren who are attending school and getting the benefit of reduced-priced -- and in some cases free -- meals at school have made major yikes t contribo the quality of work, the degree of education that the children are able to absorb and benefit from. and it is tied to these programs. the committee has dealt with conservation, i've mentioned.
the supplemental nutrition assistance program -- and throughout the bill reflects a broad bipartisan level of support and an approach that accommodates interests represented by all the members of our committee. so i think we have produced, with the leadership of the chairman, a responsible but fair bill, and i'm pleased to recommend the senate that it approves the bill. it deserves our support. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: mr. president, i rise today to discuss one of the most important and significant reforms to our nation's agriculture in decade, the agriculture reform, food, and jobs act of 2013, known around here as the farm bill, months and months of negotiations.
special thanks to the chair of the committee, senator stabenow of michigan, and the ranking member, senator cochran of mississippi. and special thanks to my staff. there is a reason people across the country are paying attention to this legislation. it is a farm bill. it is a food bill. it is a nutrition bill. it is an economic development bill. it's a rural development bill, it is a conservation bill all at once. in my state, one out of seven jobs is related to food and agriculture. to keep our economy moving forward, the farm bill must remain a priority here in congress. we did our job last year on this legislation. the house of representatives, unfortunately, didn't. but i think they will this year, when we passed overwhelmingly a
bill similar to this one. the bill maintains important investments in conservation and nutrition and renewable energy and agriculture research, so important to my state, to rural development, to broadband, all of those things that farm legislation can in fact do for rural development. in the last two years, the senate has considered reform bills that have done more than any farm bill literally i think in 20 years. we've eliminated direct payments and recoupled eligibility for crop insurance with the expectation that farmers do right by the land much th. the work of chairwoman stabenow and ranking member cochran to keep that together, linking conservation with agriculture was especially important. we set tight limits on the amount of appellat support thate received. this bill makes important strides. it will increase efforts to
improve water quality. in lake erie, one of the five great lakes, important -- even perhaps more so to chairwoman stabenow than mine -- it will help small towns make strategic economic development investments to scrimp start their local economies. it continues efforts to make sure americans have enough to eat, have access to affordable, healthy, fresh food. it is a forward-looking bill. i am pleased to support it in committee and hope to work with senate colleagues in both parties in the coming days to make slight improvements as it moves forward. the centerpiece of the bill's deficit-reduction efforts are rooted in reform of the farm safety net. the direct payments made annua annually regardless of need is over. crop insurance is the most important tool farmers have for managing risk, so this bill improves and preserves crop insurance. we know what that meant last
year, particularly as drought hit states like ohio and more severely states west of my state. farmers have said they witness a leaner, more efficient, market-oriented farm safety net. taxpayers deserve that, too. last year senator thune, republican from south dakota, and durbin and lugar and i proposed the aggregate risk in management risk program streamlining the safety net. the program will work with crop insurance to provide farmers the tools they need to manage risk, making payments only when farmers need them most. this program is market-oriented. it relies on current data. it is more responsive to farmers' needs. it is more responsive to taxpayers. the bill reforms a number of long-standing, unjustifiable practices. for the first time, this farm bill ends payments to landowners who have nothing to do with farm management. it ends payments to
millionaires. it puts a firm cap on how much support any farmer can receive from the direct farm support programs each year. this so-called conservation compliance provision reflects a landmark agreement put forward by a number of key commodity and conservation interests and stakeholders. if you're going to receive federally subsidized crop insurance, you need to show you're meeting basic conservation requirements. again, the days of subsidies without conditions and subsidies without responsibility are over. it is an example of what can happen when groups with different perspectives, the commodities farmers and the conservationists, come together to listen to each other. by relinking crop insurance subsidies with good environmental practices, this bill makes our farm safety net more defensible and protects our natural resources. as i said, this farm bill makes great strides towards better, leaner, smart farm policy, but
it is also a work in progress. the key difference between this bill and the one we passed last year is the inclusion o a progrm that is important to southern growers but not in line with what i believe ohioans want to see and what i hear from ohio farmers. i work closely with colleagues from the middle of the country to make sure this amp program is as market-oriented as possible. we can have farm programs in one -- we can't have farm programs in one part of the country become more market-oriented while others do not. the agriculture reform, food, and jobs act supports farmers but also produces a lifesaving safety net to american families who have fallen on hard times. the snap program now serves 47 million americans, more than half of whom are children and seniors. along with unemployment insurance, snap is the primary form of assistance we provide americans who've fallen on tough times. and just understand and be
certain that many, many, many of these families are people with full-time and part-time jobs that simply don't make enough money to get along. some of my colleagues will point out the rapid increase in snap enrollment over the past few years. this is to be expected since it mirrors the downturn in the economy, the unemployment levels and the fact that for ten years, most people in this country haven't had a raise. as costs go up, they haven't seen their incomes go up, it hits people in the lowest-income people the hardest. and that's the biggest reason that people have relied on food stamps. this is evidence that snap's working. our economy continues to recov recover. snap enrollment will decrease. more telling is that today some 50 million americans still live under the federal poverty level. the number of americans who rely on snap tells me that we shouldn't be gutting, we shouldn't be undercutting like a number of my colleagues in the house of representatives want to do, we shouldn't be cutting federal nutrition programs. what we should be doing is enactingonomic
policies that create -- that create jobs and reduce inequality and enable americans to put food on the table without assistance. this bill cuts $4 billion from snap. that's already $4 billion too much. it goes without saying, though, in -- and i appreciate the chairwoman's efforts here to make that $4 billion cut as painless as possible in terms of benefits that snap beneficiaries receive. again, most of these, a huge number of these snap beneficiaries are in working families, a niew huge number ofm are children, a huge number of them are senior citizens. it goes without saying that a bill with the level of cuts to snap, some $20 billion included in the house bill, won't get my support and won't pass muster in the senate. while we work to preserve snap, we can also make our nutrition programs work smarter. the farm bill makes important strides toward aligning our food and our farm and our economic policy. agriculture's always been an
economic engine of growth -- an important engine of economic growth. i said at the outset, one out of seven jobs in my state is dependent -- is related to agriculture and food. shortening the supply chain benefits farmers and families. it helps keep meaning that the more -- the more people eat that's grown locally, the better it is for the economy, the better it is for their health, the better it is for the environment. it helps keep money in the local economy. it helps build the economy, especially of rural communities in my state and across the country. this bill affects every american everyday. it's a deficit-reduction bill, it's a jobs bill, it's a bipartisan economic relief bill. i again commend chairwoman stabenow and ranking member cochran for their work in crafting this legislation. i especially appreciate the staff for individual members and the committee staff for their work. i urge my colleagues to work together and halt the impasse that keeps us from making progress on this legislation. madam -- mr. president, i -- i yield the floor. ms. stabenowms. stabenow: mr. p?
the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: before the senator from ohio leaves, i want to thank him. he has been an invaluable member of our committee. we wouldn't have the agricultural risk coverage portion, the yield loss coverage portion of this bill if it were not for his work, he and senator thune working together. we used their bill as the basis for this. he's also been the champion of rural development. we have investments in rural development we wouldn't have had without his involvement, as well as other efforts in the energy title and -- and throughout the bill. so i just want to thank him, and we're very, very, very lucky to have him as a member of the committee. mr. cochran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: i ask unanimous consent that nola mccoy and kevin boutier, who have been detailed to my staff, be granted floor privileges for the balance of the farm bill debate. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered.
make it pending. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. excuse me. ms. stabenow: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: i just indicated to the senator from arizona that while i have no objection to having a vote on his amendment, i would ask that he not proceed with his request at this time so -- we have a number of crop insurance amendments we want to do together, and we do have an amendment pending, and so i'm not going to, certainly, object to voting on his amendment, there is no attempt to do that, but i would object to having it at this point be the amendment that is pending. but i would ask my colleague fe would be willing to work with us and i would commit to vote on his amendment. this is not an attempt not to vote on his amendment. i know that my ranking member and i have talked, we certainly are committed to voting on the
amendment. but we would like very much to have an opportunity to set up how we will be voting on a series of amendments. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: if i heard the distinguished manager of the bill correctly, she committed to a vote on this amendment. is that correct? i would ask my colleague. ms. stabenow: that is correct. mr. mccain: could i ask -- mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to engage in a colonel which. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. mccain: does that mean we would vote on this early on? ms. stabenow: i don't know the exact timing. there is no attempt to delay. we're just getting started, i'd be happy to work with you, we certainly not trying to postpone it to be the last thing. and we certainly can do it earlier rather than later. but we'd just like to have some flement to look at a group --
flexibility to look at a group of amendments that relate to the same subject area. but i absolutely am committing and i hope i can speak, i believe, on behalf of my ranking member, that we are committing to a vote on the amendment and want to work with you on the timing. mr. mccain: i thank the distinguished manager. since i have the floor, i would like to make a brief statement about the amendment, and i understand the objection and i would rely on the good offices of the manager of the amendment and the ranking member that we would have a vote fairly on, not as a last-minute -- in the rush to complete the bill, vote on the amendment. this amendment by senator feinstein and myself would eliminate taxpayer be subsides croomps for tobacco. the congressional budget office estimates this amendment would save taxpayers $333 million.
that's the estimate of the congressional budget office. it might surprise americans to know that despite efforts to end traditional farm subsidies for tobacco producers, government hand 1980s for tobacco lives on in the form of highly subsidized crop insurance. since 2004, we sent $276 million on insurance subsidies for tobacco in addition to the $10 billion financed under the tobacco buyout law the congress passed a decade ago. that law was paid for by assessments on cigarette manufactures and meant to wine farmers from subsidies by buying out their growing quotas. well, it turns out joe camel anose has been under the tent all this time in the form of hidden crop insurance subsidies. as my colleagues know, crop insurance in general has a dubious reputation as 5, -- quote -- ," safety net for
farmers because it largely ensures against revenue law instead of crop loss due to weather or pests. according to the congressional budget office -- congressional region service, taxpayers spend about $14 billion a year to sub size 60% of the cost of health insurance premiums. the and there are 25% of administrative cofs. we identified eight types of tobacco that are eligible for crop insurance. tobacco fire cured, tobacco dark wear, cigar crapper, cigar binder and tobacco burly. all of these crops remain extremely profitable even without their old farm subsidies. according to reports by "the wall street journal," and cnbc, tobacco is ten times more profitable than corn and most
american tobacco is exported. in fact, the value of american tobacco is at a ten-year high since congress ended traditional tobacco subsidies. it makes no sense to subsidize tobacco insurance considering how well the free market system is working for tobacco producers. by have a longer statement on this, mr. president, last year the eight separate tobacco insurance products cost $34.7 million in taxpayer subsidies shows that more than 200 -- the usda, department of agriculture data shows $276 million in taxpayer subsidies have spent on this tobacco subsidy program since 2004. so i would remind my colleagues
according to the centers for disease control and prevention cigarette smoking adds $96 billion to domestic health care expenses and costs the american economy $97 billion in lost productivity annually. secondhand smoke adds another $10 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. so clearly we should be doing nothing to subsidize the production of tobacco. i am not saying that we should ban the growth of tobacco in america. that's a decision that farmers and the market make. but for us to continue to subsidize when these enormous costs are borne by the american people in terms of our health and our economy, it's time we ended it, and i thank the distinguished manager and ranking member for their commitment to having an up-or-down vote on this
ms. stabenow: i ask suspension of the quorum call. the presiding officer: the quorum call will be vitiated. thank you. ms. stabenow: thank you. i want to take a few moments to talk about the importance of crop insurance as a risk-management tool. i think we'll probably have a lot of discussion on the floor about crop insurance but we are, as i said earlier, moving away as a matter of policy from direct subsidies and we certainly haven't subsidized tobacco growers for a long time and i would not support doing that. we are moving in general away from that into an insurance model, and the cost is shared between the federal government and -- and growers. we want as many growers as possible to purchase crop insurance rather than having a disaster and then wanting us to pass a disaster assistance bill. we didn't have to do that this
last time around, i might add, despite the worst drought in 50, 60, 70 years, because crop insurance worked this last year. it covered the losses. so it's a very important public- private sector process and partnership, and one of my concerns about carving it up or removing one crop or another or putting limits is that we are then moving away from a general policy of insurance. and i think going down a road that would have a lot of implications and i know that farmers in general would have great concern about. i have a tremendous amount of sympathy and, in fact, agreement with the distinguished senator from arizona about what he was saying about tobacco, certainly, and the farms to health and so on. when we look overall at crop
insurance, the good news is that less than 1% of that whole program, i think disangsly less -- substantially less than 1% is something that in any way covers tobacco so that's a good thing. the larger question for all of us and for farmers across the country is are we going to make a commitment, broadly, to the number-one risk management tool for them, are we going to make sure that as we say we're not doing subsidies anymore, that we listen to what they're saying about having a crop insurance system. there are parallels between that and flood insurance. as people are proposing various limits on crop insurance, i think it's important to note, would we put that on other kinds of insurance? flood insurance risk or other things. insurance deals with risk, and it is more about encouraging farmers to have a stake in the game, to be able to cover part
of that risk with their own dollars rather than it is other kinds of policies that we've debated about subsidies. so as we go forward, there will be a lot of different discussions about crop insurance, and i would ask colleagues to join with us in resisting efforts to eliminate or limit what is a public-private insurance system that is, frankly, working very well. and one of the areas that we are so proud about that i mentioned earlier is we have now seen broadly all of the farm organizations, commodity groups, coming together, just about all of them, to work with the conservation groups and environmentalists to say we're going together to both support an insurance model, broadly, as a matter of policy for agricultural policy, but we're
also going to support linking that to conservation practices. so as you, as you farmer, receive that partnership, the piece that we kick in, with that brings a commitment for conservation practices for our land, for our soil, our water, and so on. this is very, very important. it's not been the case in the last farm bill, and the farm bill before. we haven't seen that kind of link. and they've come together and said they support crop insurance broadly as an insurance model without limits, that have been proposed by various people, but in return for that, whether it's a very large farm or whether it's a small farm, the broad public benefit of having conservation compliance
outweighs many of what we're hearing about in terms of the limits being proposed, in terms of the public good of having crop insurance and having this alliance of crop insurance and conservation compliance. it's an historic agreement. i stand by that agreement with all of the members and believe that whether we are talking about large farmers or whether we are talking about a small farm, that this is a very important policy, and that we need to have conservation compliance involved across the board in our efforts as we expand crop insurance. so we'll have a lot of discussion, a lot of debate on this. i think that it's very tempting to look at one particular crop, certainly a crop that is something that has a lot of health risks related to it, that we have a lot of concerns about it and say let's just eliminate
one crop. the challenge with that, of course, is that as a policy about insurance there will be deep opposition and concern coming from agriculture from farmers large and small across the country about starting down that road, no matter how noble the cause, in terms of the concern about the risk of that particular crop. and so, we'll look forward to more discussion on that. but i do think it's very important to put a broad lens on this. and as we have moved away from subsidies that come regardless of good times or bad, whether they're needed or not and have moved to a system where we're asking farmers to put some skin in the game, we're saying you've got to get crop insurance, get a part of paying for it, you don't get any help unless there is a disaster -- there is no payout unless there is a disaster, as we move to that broad corner
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: may i ask that the pending quorum call be terminated? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: may i further ask permission to speak for perhaps as long as but probably shorter than 20 minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, madam president. every week that we are here, i try to remind this body of the damage that carbon pollution is doing to our atmosphere and oceans. try to awaken us to our duty.
i've done it more than 30 times now. i've tried to kick out the underpinnings of any argument that the deniers to stand on. i've kicked ow the scientific so-called denial argument which actually properly belongs in the category of falsehood, not argument. i've kicked out the economic denial argument poin pointing ot that in a proper market the cost of carbon must be in the price of carbon. i even tried to kick out the religious denial argument showing the believe that god will just tidy up after us, however stupid we behave, runs counter to history and biblical text. so today let's take a crack at the political argument. how wise is it for the republican party to wed itself to the deniers and proclaim that climate change is a hoax?
make no mistake, that is the republican position. the consensus republican position and the default republican position is that climate change is a hoax. it's been said right on this floor and in committees, and as far as i know not one republican senator has stood up afterwards in this chamber to say, wait a minute, not so fast; that's actual i had thought the case. any -- that's actually not the case. any republican senator who disagrees, please come to the floor and articulate a republican position other than that climate change is a hoax. this chamber looks relatively empty, but on c-span lots of people are watching and lots of republicans are watching. yet not one republican over all 30 speeches has ever gotten back to me, even quietly on the side, to say, you know what? this is rulely getting serious. -- this is really getting serious. let's see if we can work on this
together. madam president, an iron curtain of denial has fallen around the republican party. so let me respectfully ask my republican colleagues, what are you thinking? how do you imagine this ends? more than 95% of climate scientists are convinced that human carbon pollution is causing massive and unprecedented changes to our atmosphere and oceans. you want to go with the 5% and you think that's going to be a winning strategy? moreover, it turns out that a lot of those 5 percenters are on the payroll of the polluters. you know that. it's public knowledge. some of those payroll scientists are the same people who denied acid rain, who denied the dangers of tobacco. you still like those odds? those are the folks to whom you really want to hitch your
republican wagons? you've got know that they're not telling the truth. so where does this go? what's the end game? our planet has had a run of at least 800,000 years with levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. that's 800,000 years. homo sapiens have only been around for about 200,000 years. so that 800,000 years, 8,000 centuries, it takes you back a ways. 800,000 years between 10 and 300 parts per million and in just the last 50 years we've blown out of that range and have now hit 400 parts per million and climbing. and you really want to be on the side of nothing is going on here? really? have you noticed the floods and
wildfires and droughts and superstorms and tornadoes and blizzards and temperature records? have you noticed those warming, rising seas? have you noticed species invading new territories and miles of dead pine forests in the rockies and arctic sea ice disappearing? have yodo you understand that cn the atmosphere gets absorbed by the sea and that that is a law of science and is not debatable? do you understand that because their absorbing the carbon, the oceans are getting more acidic? 30% more acidic already and climbing. do you understand that's a measurement, not a theory? it's one thing to be the party that stands against science. are you really also going to be the party that stands against measurement?
and do you know the measurement is showing that the oceans are not just becoming more acidic. they're becoming more acidic at the fastest rate recorded in a geologic record of 50 million years. have you not heard about the coral reefs, those incubators of our oceans bleaching out and dying off with almost 20% gone already worldwide? if you are a denier, look around. do you think the news is really getting better for you? let me ask my republican frien friends, what's your best bet on whether this climate and ocean problem gets better or worse in the next 20 or 40 years? seriously ... your party's reputation is on the line here. all the chips. tell me how you're going to bet.
do you want to bet the reputation of the republican party that suddenly this is all going to magically start getting better, because that's what you're doing right now. and let me ask you this: what are the young people of today going to think when they are 37 or 57 and it really is worse, maybe a lot worse? what are they going to think about the republican party then? but you took the 5% bet with their futures, that you went with the polluters over the scientists? young people are already out there asking their universities to divest from coal, as they divested from the evils of apartheid and the dangers of tobacco. good luck with the youth vote when you lock in with the coal merchants. and, by the way, the youth vote grows. it grows up and it sticks
around. how is it going to look for the republican party when the historical record shows -- because facts have a funny way of coming out -- that the campaign to fool the public on climate change was just as phony and dishonest as the campaign to fool the public on acid rain and the campaign to fool the public on tobacco? when the historical record exclusiorecord dozencloses thata scam paid for by the polluterrers and you, your great party, with young americans' futures in the balance, took sides with the scam. if that is the state of play for young voters as they come of age, why would those young people ever trust the republican party on anything else ever
again? speaking of taking sides, have you noticed who is left on your side? the koch brothers, billionaire polluters; the big oil companies, the biggest polluters in the world; the coal barons, with their legacy of pollution, strip mining, mountaintop removal and safety violations that kill their miners. there's a fine cast to be surrounded by. but wait, you say, there's more. there's the heartland institute and the institute for energy research and the american enterprise institute and the american legislative exchange council and the heritage foundation. there are many organizations. right. like the heads of hydra, they may look like many, but, as you know, in reality it is all the same beast. it's all the same scheme.
it's all the same money behind the scheme. you can name those front organizations and many more, but none of it is real. they're all just part of the same cheesy vaudville show put on by the big polluters. do you, i ask my republican friends, really want to latch yourself to that operation, to go down with that ship? the great republican party, the party of abraham hing lincoln ad theodore roosevelt, the party that gave it all, to protect a gang of scheming polluters? that's where you're headed. look who's on the other side on record against you, seeing through that nonsense. how about the joint chiefs of staff, our military leaders. how about the u.s. conference of catholic bishops.
how about nasa. nasa is driving a vehicle as big as an s.u.v. around on the surface of mars right now. they said i sent it there to may landed it there safely, and now they're driving it around on mars. do you think those scientists just might know what they're talking about? how about every legitimate american scientific professional society -- about 30-strong? how about major american corporations like walmart, ford, apple, coca-cola? how about global insurance and reinsurance businesses like lloyd's of london and munich rei. today frank in utter, the president of the reinsurance association of america, is reported as saying, and i'll
quote this -- it is too god -- "insurance is heavily dependent on scientific thought. it is not as amenable to politicized scientific thought." so, i ask my republican friends, whose side do you like in this? in this corner the joint chiefs, the bishops, walmart, ford, apple, coke, nasa, 30 top scientific organizations, the top insurers and reinsurers, and by the way several thousand other legitimate others. in that corner, the polluting industry and a screen of schemey organizations they -- sketchy organizations they fund. let's be searious. do you really want to bet the reputation of the republican party that the polluters are the ones that we should count on here?
because that's what you're doing. and for what? to protect market share for the polluterrers. that's your -- to protect market share for the polluters. that's your up side. your up side is market share for polluters. i'm willing do a carbon pollution fee that sets the market in balance and returns every single dollar to the american people. no new agencies, no new taxes, no bigger government. every dollar back. just a balanced market with the costs included in the price, the way they're supposed to be, which will make better energy choices, increase jobs, and prevent pollution. yes, that does mean less market share for the polluters, as new technologies emerger. -- as new technologies emerge. that's actually the point. but every single dollar back in americans' pockets -- and, by the way, the american people,
three-quarters of them believe that climate change is real and that we need to do something about it. so, you may have a question for me. why do you care? why do you, sheldon whitehouse, democrat of rhode island, care if we republicans run off the climate cliff like a bunch of proverbial lemmings and disgrace ourselves? i'll tell you why. we're stuck in this together. we are stuck in this together. when cyclones tear up oklahoma and hurricanes swamp alabama, and wildfires scorch texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover, and the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn't just hit oklahoma and alabama and texas. it hits rhode island with floods
and storms. it hits oregon with aci acidifid seas, it hits montana with dying forests. so, like it or not, we're in this together. you drag america with you to your fate. so, i want this future. i want a republican party that has returned to its senses and is strong and a worthy adversary. in a strong america that has done right by its people and the world. that's what i want. i don't want this future. i don't want a republican party disgraced, that le let its ex extremists run off the cliff. an america cuffing from grave economic and -- an america suffering from grave economic and environmental damage because we failed, because we didn't wake up and do our duty to our
people, and because we didn't lead the world. i do not want that future. but that's where we're headed. so i will keep reaching out and calling out, ever hopeful that you will wake up before it is too late, both for you and for the rest of us. i thank the presiding officer, and i yield the floor. [inaudible] i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
ms. stabenow: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: i ask suspension of the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: before we move into other business this evening in the senate, i would like to encourage all of our senators to be submitting whatever amendments that they have so we can begin to work through them. we want to work diligently through the amendments and be able to move, obviously, as
quickly as possible, within reason, to be able to put together votes. and we would ask all of our colleagues if they do have amendments to let us know what they are and to file them as soon as possible so that we can begin working on those amendments. so i -- i believe that senator cochran and i are both in agreement, we're anxious to get going and looking forward to working with colleagues to dispose and vote on amendments. mr. cochran: madam chair? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mississippi. mr. cochran: i'm pleased to join with the distinguished chairman and urge snars wh senators who e amendments to come to the floor and offer those amendments so we can proceed to complete action on this bill at a reasonable amount of time. we don't want to cut anybody off. everybody has a right to be heard on whatever subject they wish to bring before the senate. but we do have some senators we know have amendments that are relevant to the issue before us